PTC Blog

Did you know that certain conditions and injuries are best treated while you are in the water? After an initial physical therapy evaluation, a licensed physical therapist may design an individualized comprehensive treatment plan for you that may include aquatic therapy.

Aquatic therapy is performed in a pool or tank of warm water that provides an ideal environment in which to exercise because its buoyancy counteracts gravity, thereby decreasing the weight placed on painful joints and the spine. In fact, when immersed to neck level, buoyancy supports 90 percent of the body’s weight. In waist-depth water, buoyancy can still support 50 percent of body weight.

Diminished weight bearing stress is one of many of the advantages of pool therapy for patients with osteoarthritis. Patients with pain from osteoarthritis are often unable to perform many land-based exercises without exacerbating the pain. However, in a buoyant, gravity-reduced environment like water, gentle movements to improve strength, flexibility, and endurance are often possible. A primary goal of aquatic therapy is to teach participants new ways of moving and retrain the musculoskeletal system to accommodate to the effects of osteoarthritis.

Exercises often resemble those performed in traditional land-based physical therapy and exercise programs. Examples of typical exercises include:

  • Stretching of the hamstrings, low back, upper back, and neck.
  • Strengthening exercises, such as using foam barbells that work against the resistance of the water.
  • Aerobics, such as water walking, cross-country skiing, or slow jogging to loosen the lower back and hips.

If you would like to learn more about our Aquatic Therapy program, check out our website; or call one of our 7 locations to speak with a professional healthcare provider.

Kaitlyn Grell, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
St. Francis Physical Therapy

May 23rd, 2018

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Youth sports teach and develop life skills such as teamwork, responsibility, time management, and perseverance while improving physical and emotional health.

Traditionally, youth participated in variety of sports that would change as the seasons change. As an example, boys may have participated in baseball in the summer, football in the fall and basketball in the winter. Participating in a variety of sports over the course of a year helps develop different muscles and movement patterns. Muscles, tendons, and joints that are stressed during one season are allowed to rest during the next season.

More recently, sports culture has changed with greater options available to athletes including year-round specialized club teams, personal fitness trainers and private coaches. There is now an increased pressure on young athletes to specialize in one sport the majority of the year. This has led to a decrease in the number of multisport athletes at the high school level. There is evidence that early sports specialization increases the risk to develop overuse injuries. Younger athletes appear to be more susceptible to repetitive use injuries due to their developing tissues not being able to handle repetitive forces with out some period of time off. Some of these injuries include tendonitis, stress fractures, muscle strains and bursitis.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a set of guidelines to help prevent overuse injuries in young athletes. They include:

  • Limit each sport activity to five days a week (including competitive play, sports specific training, and scrimmage)
  • Rest one day a week from all physical activity
  • Take two to three months off of sports per year
  • Increase weekly training time, number of repetitions, and total distance by no more than ten percent each week.

If a young athlete does develop pain or sustain an injury it is important to manage it appropriately and “listen” to what the body is communicating through pain. The Physical Therapy experts at Physical Therapy Consultants can be a great resource to help athletes recover quickly and proper when injury does occur. Visit to request a free consultation and a member of our care team will call you to answer questions you may have.

Dustin Eslinger, MA, ATC, ITAT
Athletic Trainer
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

May 16th, 2018

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May is National Arthritis Awareness Month! In the clinic we see quite a few people dealing with symptoms associated with arthritis. The good news is that there are some easy ways to help decrease the pain associated with arthritis.

1. Eat heathy and drink plenty of water. Eating earthly and drinking plenty of water will make sure your joints stay hydrated and function properly and you are ready for the day.

2. Stretching. Stretching will allow your muscles to stay loose and allow for optimal movement.

3. Stay active. Walking biking, and swimming are great low impact forms of exercises. Guidelines recommend 150 minutes of activity per week or 30 minutes 5x/week.

4. Heat or Ice. Both can help decrease joint pain, or you can even alternate them throughout the day. Apply either for about 10-15 minutes at a time and leave at least 45 minutes between your next application!

Do you have questions about how physical therapy can help your arthritis pain?! Give us a call for more information at 1-888-THERAPY.

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Physical Therapy Consultants

May 9th, 2018

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Are you interested in beginning a running program? Do you have goals related to running or improving your cardiovascular fitness? With the warmer weather finally here, now is a great time to accomplish those goals and get started! BUT… where do you start? With so much information at our fingertips, beginning a running program can be overwhelming. Today we share our Top 5 Running Apps to help you stay on track.

Where are my beginners at? Before, we get in to talking about apps and what each has to offer, I want you to go back to our blog last week and review the 5 Useful Running Tips for Beginners.

Ok, now that you were able to review those tips… Let’s talk more about some great resources that you can use when beginning a running program.

The first app on our list is:

1. Map My Run
Map My Run is an app made by Under Armour. The free features on this app are great and allow you to track various features. This app certainly holds up to it’s name it that it will map the route of your run. It also tracks you distance, pace, calorie burn and believe it or not, elevation. The great thing about this app, like many others, it pairs nicely with your smart devices (fitbit, apple watch, etc). There are other great features on this app that you can
purchase as well if you are looking for a little bit more.

2. Strava
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned runner, the Strava app is a fun and interactive app that is not only great for runner but also cyclists. Strava means “strive”, an encouraging title to say the least. This app prides itself on creating a community for it’s athletes where everyone can work together to meet their goals. This app has al the analytics you need to track your progress. The nice thing about this app is that it is a one stop shop for tracking other activity such as swimming, rock climbing, and even crossfit.

3. C25K (Couch to 5k)
This is one of my favorite free apps available. C25K is a progressive app that starts you with walk and run intervals until you build up to running a 5k. This is a great app for beginners or individuals ready to get back in to a running routine. This app give you a set weekly goal and training program of 3 times per week with rest days in between. Each routine is 30-40 minutes long which is more than doable for any lifestyle. Oh, and did I mention you can link your favorite music playlist to this app!!

4. RaceRunner
Do you have a bit of a competitive streak?? The RaceRunner app, might just be the right fit for you! This app is super fun in that it allows you to participate in virtual races with others. Get creative in making your own races or participate in other races around the world. If competing is your thing, give this app a try!

5. Runtastic
Runtastic made our list of the top free running apps because of the exercise diary. Like the other apps above, Runtastic uses GPS mapping to track your route in real-time and keeps all your metrics available so that you can see your progress. Another great feature of this app is its multiple training programs that you can follow for a more scheduled plan. There are so many available resources when it comes to fitness. Finding an app that is right for you, might take some trial and error. The bottom line is that you have resources to help you on your journey and keep you on track towards reaching your goals.

Consider some of these apps when you are training for our upcoming Chaos Family 5k Walk/Run that is being held on Saturday, October 13th, 2018. Make it your next goal to participate in this exciting event that support our deployed military troops.

Do you use any of these running apps or have other great apps you like to use for your fitness
routines? Be sure to comment with your experiences.

Jackie Giese, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

May 2nd, 2018

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The sun is shining and the snow is finally melting, which means it’s time to get outside! All winter long you have contemplated starting a running program, but where do you start?

Besides figuring what your goals are and finding the right program for you, having proper footwear is a must. There is no one right shoe for everyone. Everybody’s feet are different and finding the shoe that fits your foot the best will help decrease injury risk.

1) Get to the store and get your feet measured. (Even though you are an 8 in one brand it may be different in another)

2) Look for shoes geared towards running. Running shoes have different cushioning to allow for repeated impact day after day decreasing over-use injury risk.

3) Proper length and width: there should be about a thumbnails width between your longest toe and end of the shoe. The shoe should have enough width to allow your foot to slightly move side to side without rubbing.

4) Look at flex and arch support. The shoe should bend and crease where your foot does, along with having good support in your arch. Having shoes that create too much arch for your foot or flex in different areas can create arch pain or plantar fasciitis.

5) Buy shoes that feel comfortable on your foot. If the store has a treadmill, ask to walk or jog for a few minutes to see how your foot feels or walk up and down an isle a few times. Your instep should not feel pressure, if it does try different lacing techniques before changing shoe styles.

Helpful Tips:

1) Shoes typically last 300-500 miles

2) Try shoes on in the evening because our feet can swell later on in the day. This will decrease the chance of buying shoes that are too small.

3) If you wear orthotics bring them with you.

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

April 25th, 2018

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Have you decided to improve your fitness? A well-structured running program is important for beginners to build up their strength and endurance, decrease injury risk, and increase fun!  Before lacing up your shoes, check out these 5 extremely useful tips.

1. It all starts with the right pair of sneakers.
Don’t be fooled by name brand shoes. Instead, try on four or five running shoes, let your feet decide. In a sweeping review of the science on running shoes and injuries, researchers found that the most important feature of a running shoe is comfort! That’s it. Choose a shoe that feels good.

2. Start with short running intervals.
As a beginner, you shouldn’t plan on running the entire distance in one go. Break it down into intervals and try to keep them short at the beginning. Walk between the intervals so you can recover a little. Begin by alternating between 2 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking. Increase your running intervals by one minute per workout until you can run the entire distance at a stretch without having to walk.

3. Nutrition is key!!
Don’t drink or eat very much before a run. Eating 100-200 calories of simple carbohydrate after a strenuous run will speed up the reloading of muscle fuel for your next run. Make sure you are staying well hydrated. Calculate your body weight in pounds, divide it by 2 and drink that many ounces of water each day. For example, a 200 pound man should drink 100 ounces of quality water each day! If you are in a hot climate or exercising, you should increase this amount.

4. Your body needs time to recover.
Your first run went great and you are ready to head out again right away? I would recommend waiting a day before attempting your next run to let your body rest. Schedule your training so you run one day and rest the next day, this will avoid overuse injuries. You may possibly experience delayed onset muscle soreness. Keep in mind that stretching after your run will help reduce this soreness.

5. Couch to 5k running app!
Follow this easy, fun 5k training program for beginner runners. Download the application, “couch to 5k” and it will help you pass through the 5k finish line in just 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 9 weeks.

Starting a new running habit doesn’t have to be hard — all it takes is a comfortable pair of shoes and a willingness to move a little or a lot, all at your own pace. Are you ready? Let’s go!!

April 18th, 2018

Posted In: General


Whether it is performed prior to athletic activities or physically demanding work, a proper warm-up can be beneficial to improve performance and decrease injury rates. Most warm-up sessions will include a progression of cardiovascular exercises and stretching.

Cardiovascular exercises such as jogging increase circulation, increase body temperature and raise heart rate. At rest your body produces a low 15- to 20-percent of blood flow to your skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. After 10 to 12 minutes of warm-up cardiovascular exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases up to 70 to 75 percent and the capillaries open.  This increased blood flow leads to an increase in muscle temperature.  Increased muscle temperature contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation.  Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism increases meaning muscles work more efficiently.

Stretching prior to activity prepares the muscles, joints and tendons for the movements they will be required to carry out during the activity. There are two main categories of stretching:

Dynamic stretching is a form of active movement that takes your body through ranges of motion that will better prepare you for your work or sporting activity.

Static stretching involves holding a stretch for a period of time. Research suggests that static stretches should be held for at least 20-30 seconds to achieve an increase in length of soft tissue.

A good warm-up should focus on using dynamic stretches as opposed to static stretching which may be more beneficial in increasing general flexibility.

Here are 5 of my preferred simple dynamic warm-up activities to include in your warm-up:

1. Glute stretch








2. Hamstring stretch








3. Lunge and twist



4. Arm circles






5. Arm swings








Dustin Eslinger, MA, ATC
Athletic Trainer
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

April 11th, 2018

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Stability balls are a great, cheap piece of exercise equipment that can be used to help improve everything from ROM to strength. Stability ball exercises can easily be completed anywhere including home, gyms, and in physical therapy sessions. My favorite way to use a stability ball is to help build core strength. Here are my 5 favorite core strengthening exercises using a stability ball:

1. Prone roll outs. Begin by kneeling on the ground with the stability ball in front of you. Place forearms on ball with elbows bent. Activate your transverse abdominis (TA) by gently pulling your belly button into the spine. Keep shoulders relaxed roll forward slow and controlled. Return to starting position.








2. Prone walkout. Lay on your stomach on the stability ball. Tighten your TA. Keep your feet together and shoulders relaxed. Slow walk your hands forward, until the ball reaches your knees. Slowly and with control return to the starting position.










3. Supine Walkout. Start by sitting on the stability ball. Activate TA by pulling belly button into the spine. Cross arms in front of your chest. Slowly walk your feet forward until the ball reaches your shoulder blade area. Slowly and with control return to starting position.






4. Bridges. Place your feet/calves on ball while laying on your back. Activate TA and contract your glute muscles. Lift hips off of the ground, making sure to lift hips evenly. Hold for 3-5 seconds and return to starting position.






5. Bird dogs. Lay on your stomach on the stability ball. Keep your hands and feet on the ground. Activate your
TA. Lift opposite arm and leg a couple of inches off of the ground. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Make sure to keep hips level so you don’t roll off the ball. Repeat with other arm and leg.



I hope these exercises help you start a stability ball core strengthening program! What are your favorite stability ball
exercises? Let us know in the comments below! Happy strengthening!

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

April 4th, 2018

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Have you ever experienced a muscle pain (tightness) so intense that it stops you in your tracks? This tightening of a muscle, usually in the calf, is called a muscle cramp or “charley horse.” They are defined as a sudden and involuntary muscle contraction that can cause severe pain. Muscle cramps are typically harmless but in some cases they can be red flags for underlying problems.

What are some causes of muscle cramps?
• Dehydration: decreased fluid to the muscle doesn’t allow for proper function disrupting nerve endings.
• Mineral Deficiency: not allowing for proper nerve conduction. This can happen during pregnancy due to depleted magnesium and potassium.
• Medications treating other medical conditions such as blood pressure medication
• Overuse, exercise intensity and fatigue
• Neurological: from Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoarthritis, and diabetic peripheral neuropathy

How to prevent muscle cramps/self-care?
• Stay properly hydrated. Drink plenty of water!
• Exercise coupled with good stretching practices

When to consult a medical professional?
• Cramps happen frequently and cause severe discomfort
• Cramps are associated with leg swelling, redness or skin changes
• Cramps are associated with muscle weakness
• Cramps don’t improve with self-care
• Cramps aren’t associated with an obvious cause, such as strenuous exercise.

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

March 28th, 2018

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It’s that time of year again! Spring is almost here which means baseball season is officially here!! When starting spring training, it’s important for the players to maintain proper shoulder mobility as repetitive overhead throwing can cause tightness of the shoulder and chest, typically resulting in loss of throwing velocity and overuse injuries. I’ve incorporated a combination of mobility and strengthening exercises below for the baseball player to reduce the likelihood of injury to the throwing arm over the course of a long season.

Range of Motion Exercises

Cross-Body Stretch
This stretch addresses the muscles in the back of the shoulder which are prone to tightness in overhead athletes. This stretch is performed lying on the involved side with hips and knees bent. The involved shoulder and elbow are positioned in 90 degrees of flexion. The hand of the uninvolved arm grasps the elbow of the involved arm and gently pulls it across the body. Once a mild stretch is felt on the outside or back of the shoulder, this position is held for approximately 30 seconds.

Thoracic Spine Windmill
This is a great dynamic mobility drill to restore thoracic spine rotation and improve the flexibility of the lats and pectoral muscles. Begin on your side with both arms outstretched in front of you. Place a foam roll under your top leg with the knee and hip bent to 90 degrees. The bottom knee and hip remain extended throughout the exercise. Reach forward with your top hand and then complete a large circular windmill motion as you rotate your entire upper body. Keep reaching as if you were attempting to lengthen your entire arm. Follow your hand with your eyes to ensure proper thoracic spine and rib cage movement. The top knee and leg should remain in contact with the foam roll throughout the exercise. Perform 10 reps on each side.


Strengthening Exercises

Side lying external rotation with dumbbell
Lie on uninvolved side with involved arm at side of body and elbow bent to 90. Keeping the elbow of involved arm fixed to side, raise arm with dumbbell in hand. Hold for 2 seconds and lower back to starting position. Perform 2 sets of 20 reps. Make sure to start light and work up to 3 pounds. It is more about proper form and range of motion rather than the amount of weight. Start at 2 sets of 20 reps and progress to 3 sets of 20 reps as able.


Lower trap strengthening on stability ball
Seated on SB, with both arms fixed at side and elbows bent to 90 degrees. thumbs facing upwards. Grasp tubing with both hands and rotate both shoulders outward, rotating thumbs until parallel with floor. Hold for 2 seconds then return to starting position. Perform 2 sets of 15-20 reps.


Lie on stomach on stability ball, face down, with both arms hanging straight to floor and palms facing down. Raise both arms out to the side parallel to the floor, hold for 2 seconds then lower slowly back to starting position. Add weight as able, perform 2 sets of 15 reps.


Our team of experts at Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc can design a sport specific rehab program that incorporates a combination of strengthening and range of motion exercises for the overhead athlete. This program is created to help the athlete return to the field from injury, improve form, and work to avoid injuries in the future.

Kaitlyn Grell, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

March 14th, 2018

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