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Are Your Workouts Giving You What You Want?

How much thought have you put into the exercises you’re going to use for your next workout? Did you choose them yourself, or did you find them on the internet or in a magazine? What’s your workout designed for? Do those goals match yours? Are the exercises even safe for you? Using the wrong program can lead to wasting time in the gym, frustration, plateaus in progress and injury. Let’s take a closer look at what goes into program design and the cost of getting it wrong.

Exercise Selection

There are many things to think about when choosing specific exercises. Machine vs. free weights, isolation vs. compound lifts, number of reps and sets, etc. Each one of these factors affects the results, so making the wrong choices could lead to wasting time working on the wrong things, limit your results or lead to injury.

Technique

If you choose the right exercises, but don’t know how to do them properly you will again limit your results, or worse, end up injured. Poor technique leads to inefficient movement and limits the power your muscles can create. It also changes the load on your muscles, joints, and ligaments which can lead to pain and injury.

Volume

Volume is a way of thinking about how much work you’re doing during a workout. Doing a few reps with a heavy weight or a lot of reps with a light weight could end up being the same volume. Same goes for running a shorter distance quickly uphill vs a longer run at a slower pace on flat terrain. If your volume is too great you won’t recover well between workouts and create the possibility of injury. Too little volume and you won’t see results.

Progression

If you’ve been doing the same exercises with the same weight and the same number of reps and sets, you’re not progressing. Same goes if you jump on the treadmill for the same amount of time with the same settings each time. To make progress, things have to change and the program that works for your first 6 months won’t work for you 2 years down the road.

Designing an exercise program is a complex challenge with a lot of factors to consider. Most people have a history of injuries and don’t have perfect movement in every joint which further complicates things. If you’re not making progress or just want to make sure your workouts are as effective as they can be, have one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy take a look at your program.

Your GPT Doctor of Physical Therapy can help design an individualized program to help you reach your goals while keeping you safe and injury free. Give us a call to start your path to improvement.

Do You Know Your Movement Vital Signs?

Most people think of heart rate or blood pressure when they think of vital signs. It is common to use numbers to quantify health and risk of disease. The American Heart Association encourages people to “know their numbers” referring to blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight. However, research is now showing the importance of moving properly for health.

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers you can use to quantify your movement health:

Walking Speed:  Walking speed has been called the “sixth vital sign” in medical literature recently. It is easy to measure, and takes into account strength, balance, coordination, confidence, cardiovascular fitness, tolerance to activity, and a whole host of other factors. It has also been shown to be predictive of future hospitalizations, functional decline, and overall mortality. Normal walking speed is considered to be 1.2 to 1.4 meters per second.

Push Ups:  Push ups are popular to build strength, but a recent study found that they can show us a lot about your heart too. Researchers found that men who could do 40 or more consecutive push ups were at a 96% lower risk for cardiovascular disease than were men who could do less than 10. The push up test was also more useful in predicting future cardiovascular disease than aerobic capacity measured on a treadmill.

Grip Strength:  Hand grip strength has been shown to be strongly correlated with health. The stronger your hand grip is, the less likely you are to suffer from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, COPD, and all types of cancer. In the study, muscle weakness was defined as grip strength <26kg for men and <16 kg for women. Grip strength below these numbers was highly correlated with an increase in disease.

Standing From the Floor:  If you can’t easily get down on the floor and back up your health might be in trouble, according to a study that looked at more than 2,000 people. The study asked people to go from standing to sitting on the floor and back up with as little support as needed. They found that if you need to use more than one hand to get up and down from the floor that you were 2 to 5 times more likely to die in the next 7 years than someone who can do it with just one hand, or even better,no hands at all.

Moving well is obviously important to overall health and longer life. These tests can give a snapshot of how you’re doing. If you’re having trouble with any of them, considering seeing a movement specialist – your physical therapist.  Give Greensboro Physical Therapy a call today to set up your consultation. 

Life is a Movement Journey, Here’s How PT Can Help

Now that summer is almost here, temperatures have been hot in the Triad. And that means the transition from heating our homes to cooling our homes has come and gone. No matter what method you use to cool your home during the warm spring and summer months (central air conditioning, window units, or fans and dehumidifiers), each spring/summer, you cross your fingers that your approach still works. If not, you might be calling an expert for a tune-up,or in extreme circumstances, you might need a complete overhaul.

Just like an AC system that has probably been dormant for many months of the year, a body that hasn’t been physically engaged on a regular basis may have trouble getting started again. And yet, this time of year, the warm temps draw many people to city and suburban streets, tracks and trails, ready to take that first run of the season. A good percentage of these spring/summer runners haven’t kept up their strides throughout the winter. It should come as no surprise that a 4-mile run for a previously inactive person is going to stir up a few aches and pains.

Especially as we age, our ability to move undergoes changes. But whether we’re talking about a college student or a retiree, returning to an activity without proper planning is a recipe for disaster. That’s where physical therapy comes in. Physical therapists are trained to treat injuries and ease pain, but they can also help their patients prevent injuries and safely prepare to participate in new activities.

Think of physical therapists as “movement consultants” who can ensure that your body is physically ready to tackle a new challenge—or resume a favorite leisure activity. Here’s another example to illustrate what we’re talking about: Let’s say that you play in an adult soccer league and you’re preparing to play in your first game of the season in a few weeks. You probably hung up your cleats when the last season ended months ago, but expect to pick up just where you left off. But it’s simply too much to ask for your 2019 debut on the field to be on the same level as the last game of the previous season, when you likely had reached peak performance.

This is a good time for your PT to step in and help you shake off the rust. The rehab professional can customize an exercise plan to help you slowly return to sport and avoid an injury that could sideline you for the whole season. Or like cleaning the filters before firing up your air conditioner for the first time this year, the rehab expert can help to ensure that your body is prepared to return to its former activity level following a hiatus.

Want to Start a New Activity? Have Movement Goals? Here’s How Greensboro Physical Therapy Can Help.

When companies that operate in big industries like financial services and pharmaceuticals want to update their business models, streamline their market approach or launch a new commercial product, they often turn to the expertise of consultants. These experts have vast knowledge to help companies solve problems and achieve their goals. Did you know there’s such an expert that can help you manage pain, reach your fitness goals and prepare to try a new activity safely?

Meet us, the Doctors of Physical Therapy, the DPTs (sounds like a new Marvel Netflix series of heroes).  Think of your DPT as a movement consultant, trained to help you build the strength, endurance and flexibility needed to attain your goals. A common misconception is that DPTs are only trained to help clients improve their performance in the sports and leisure activities that they already participate in. But wait, there’s more: DPTs can educate clients who are interested in pursuing activities that they’ve never tried before, too. Let’s say you’ve always been a casual bike rider but want to train to run a 5K road race, where do you start?

At Greensboro Physical Therapy, our DPTs have the right training  and background to help you reach new goals.  Here are three ways to maximize your rehab sessions:

1. Know what you’re aiming for. Having a clear idea of your goal or goals—before going to that first PT appointment—will ensure that you can communicate exactly what you’re looking to achieve. Take the time to jot down some ideas for the future as well as goals you’ve attained in the past so you can jump start the conversation with your DPT.

2. Listen to your limitations—and your DPT. Of equal importance to communicating your wants and needs is taking the time to listen closely to what we might say.  We work hard and trained specifically to assess your body’s signals and then use that information to identify injuries in the making and uncover weaknesses and limitations that could prevent you from reaching your goals.

3. Be prepared to take it one step at a time. Our DPTs will work with you to establish an appropriate timeline to achieving your goals. For example, it’s unlikely that you’ll be ready to keep up with your best friend and avid runner at the town 5K the following weekend. However, your DPT can help modify your approach so you can still participate, even if you aren’t ready to run the entire distance.

These three steps will help your DPT design a customized exercise program that suits all of your needs and gets you to the finish line quickly—and safely.

What’s The Deal With Knee Osteoarthritis? (And What Can You Do About It?)

Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by cell stress/degradation caused by trauma and maladaptive repair in joints.  Articular cartilage, which covers the bones in the knee joint, is avascular (has no blood supply), does not regenerate, and receives nutrients through diffusion via mechanical pressure (which means if you don’t move, it doesn’t get nutrients!). Pain actually occurs from the synovium, bone, and nerves, not from the cartilage itself. Bone becomes weight bearing as cartilage wears, with changes in pressure and loading resulting in pain.

Diagram showing OA

Did You Know?

  • 50% of population has a musculoskeletal disorder, with 25% reporting chronic pain in a joint. 
  • The knee is the most common lower extremity site for OA (27 million people have knee OA).
  • Primary factors for knee OA:  increased BMI, female, previous knee injury.  Other factors: high impact sports, altered joint mechanics, and jobs that require frequent kneeling.

Treatment Options

Arthroscopic surgery: “Just say no”.  Research has shown a placebo effect at best, with an increased chance of needing a total knee replacement down the line.

Injections: Research has shown relief for approx. 2 weeks typically, with no measurable increase in function noted long term.  

Consistent supervised/guided exercise plan and physical therapy are low risk options that show improvements at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months.

Why Choose Physical Therapy?

Clinical evaluation/screening with “booster sessions” performed by our Doctors of Physical Therapy have shown improved outcomes, progressed activity level and helps address impairments that limit your daily life. Yearly “checkups” are recommended, with more frequent sessions when pain is present. Supervised exercise, manual therapy, strength/endurance training, and light aerobics have been shown to decrease pain, increase function, improve strength/control, improve joint mechanics, improve quad strength, decrease inflammation, improve motion, and improve gait to help you achieve your maximum function.

What to do?  Give us a call at Greensboro Physical Therapy (336.274.5006) to set up your personalized evaluation to find out what may help you have less pain and trouble related to that diagnosis of “Uncle Arthur.”