PTC Blog

Warmer weather allows us to tackle those long overdue summer yard projects. An increase in activity shouldn’t mean an increase in injuries. Help prevent sore muscles by doing these stretches before taking on your summer yard project. All stretches should be held for 30 seconds, and 2 sets should be completed on each side for optimal benefit.

1. Upper Trap stretch. Tilt your ear to you shoulder, while keeping your nose pointed straight forward and shoulders relaxed, until you feel a gentle stretch through the side of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

2. Shoulder Cross body stretch. Grab just above your elbow with your opposite hand and gently pull your arm across your body until a stretch is felt on the back of your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

3. Piriformis stretch. Laying on your back bring your knee toward your opposite shoulder until a stretch is felt through your buttocks area. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

4. Hamstring stretch. Seated in chair with one leg bent and one extended out in front of you. Lean forward slightly until a stretch is felt down the back of your thigh. Toes should be relaxed to avoid putting stress on your sciatic nerve. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

5. Gastroc stretch. Standing facing a wall with a staggered stance (1 foot closer to the wall and 1 foot behind). Bend the knee closer to the the wall, while keeping the back leg straight. Lean into the wall, until a gentle stretch is felt in the back leg. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

Also don’t forget to drink plenty of water and apply sunscreen during your summer projects!

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy

June 13th, 2018

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We’re excited to be celebrating National Dairy Month! Today I wanted to provide you with what you need to know when it comes to understanding dairy and milk alternatives. If you ever have more questions, reach out to use directly though our website at Just click on “Ask a Dietitian,” we’d be happy to help!

We get a lot of questions regarding milk. Milk has no added sugars, little to no saturated fat, calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients, making it the best option for those without dairy allergies or intolerances. Notice how I said milk has no added sugars. When you look at the nutrition facts label on cows milk, you’ll see 12 grams of sugar. Just know that this sugar is naturally occurring, and not added as an ingredient. Lactose is the natural sugar found in all dairy products. Similarly, there is natural sugar in fruit, too! Don’t be fooled! Milk has great nutrition!

Need a Milk Alternative?
For those with dairy allergies or intolerances, milk and milk products may need to be avoided. Luckily, there are a variety of milk alternatives on the market. However, not all milk alternatives are equally nutritious. See the chart below to help guide you in making the best choice for you and your family.

Soy Milk
• Fat: low in fat
• Protein: 7 grams
• Sugar: 1-17*
• Fortified with: Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and DHA Omega 3

Almond Milk
• Fat: low in fat
• Protein: 1 grams
• Sugar: 0-17*
• Fortified with: Calcium and Vitamin D

Coconut Milk
• Fat: high in saturated fat
• Protein: 0 grams
• Sugar: <1-9
• Fortified with: Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12

Rice Milk
• Fat: 1 gram
• Protein: <1 gram
• Sugar: 12 grams
• Fortified with: Calcium

Cashew Milk
• Fat: 2 grams
• Protein: <1 gram
• Sugar: 0 grams
• Fortified with: Calcium and Vitamin D

Key Takeaways:
**Always be sure to choose unsweetened varieties to avoid high amounts of added sugar. Cow’s milk contains 12 grams of sugar, all of which is natural lactose. There is no added sugar in cow’s milk, unless it is flavored (chocolate, strawberry, etc.).
Before I leave with you all these thoughts, of course I will share a recipe with you as well.
I love this recipe for Stuffed Bell Peppers. It’s a fun way to use the peppers and you can pack in so much nutrition inside. Of course there is a bit of cheese to help celebrate National Dairy Month in proper portions. You can find this recipe as well as so many others on our Dietitian’s Corner page.

Happy National Dairy Month!

Amy Peick, RD, LD
Coborn’s Inc.
Supermarket Registered Dietitian

June 6th, 2018

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Working in physical therapy I often get asked the question, “Are there certain foods I can eat to cut down on my inflammation and decrease chronic pain?” The answer is, Yes, to a certain extent. There are two types of inflammation that occur in our bodies, Acute and Chronic. Acute Inflammation is critical to our bodies healing process and is a natural and valuable response to tissue damage. When there is a disruption in our tissue caused by an injury or infection, there is an increase in blood flow and white blood cells to the localized area to start the healing process. Chronic Inflammation has a long duration and occurs with persistent injury or infection or related to diseases such as arthritis, obesity, and diabetes. Chronic inflammation usually leads to tissue damage and can be more controlled with our diets. Foods high in sugar and saturated fats can cause an over stimulated immune system which can produce joint pain, fatigue and tissue damage. Studies have shown certain foods can help decrease inflammation caused by chronic inflammation in our bodies.

Here are 5 of the many foods that can easily be incorporated into our diets.

• Fish or nuts : the omega-3 fatty acids can increase the amount of anti-inflammatory cells
• Whole grains: higher in fiber and less added sugars
• Dark leafy greens such as: spinach, kale and broccoli contain high levels of vitamin E
• Low fat dairy such as Greek yogurt contains calcium, vitamin D and Probiotics
• Berries: which are high in antioxidants

When it comes to chronic pain, what you eat can greatly impact how you feel. Eating a well-rounded diet of appropriate carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals along with adequate water intake will allow your body to work properly. Diets high in processed food do not supply your body with suitable nutrients and can cause the tissues to become inflamed which then manifest into pain.

When consuming the appropriate carbohydrates (which should be more complex vs simple) and in moderation, they are essential for your body to produce energy. Carbohydrates includes sugars, starches and fibers. Simple carbohydrates are quick energy sources: table sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, etc. which should be limited in your diet. Complex carbohydrates are derived from plants and contains both starch and fiber: vegetables, potatoes, whole grains and fruits. They provide 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate. Adults are recommended to consume between 45%-65% of daily calories.

Fiber is also a part to of the carbohydrate family. It cannot be digested but it is important to keep the digestive tract healthy. Dietary Fiber is found in beans, whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Soluble fiber absorbs water, slows nutrient absorption and helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber does not brake down and adds bulk to intestinal contents.  Recommended daily consumption of fiber for women is 19-50 y/o 25 grams, 19-50 y/o 38 grams per day for men.

Fats provide the highest level of energy. As carbohydrates are burned off more quickly, our bodies rely on our fat storage. Fat provides 9 calories per every gram of fat and should be about 20-30% of our daily calories. Its other function is to help move vitamins through our bloodstream to be absorbed within our body. Fats are broken down into Saturated and Unsaturated. Saturated fats are primarily found in animal products such as meat, milk and cheeses.  Ingesting high levels of this type of fat is associated with the increased risk of heart disease. Some saturated fats are found in plant products, such as palm, coconut and cocoa oils. Unsaturated fats are broken down into mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids which include olive, canola, and fish oils and are associated with lowering the risk of heart disease. Trans fats are more problematic, in which they are “super whipped” changing them from a liquid to a solid form at room temperature.

Vitamins and Minerals provide no energy to the body but are important in carrying out many functions. Vitamins help control the growth of body tissue, bone health and blood clot formation. Minerals also help with bone formation, oxygen transport and immune function.

Proper water intake is one of the most important things you can do. Water makes up about 60% of our bodies and is responsible for carrying out all of our body’s normal functions, such as:

• Transporting blood sugars, oxygen and fats to working muscles.
• Providing structure and protection which cushions and lubricates joints and organs.
• It is needed for chemical reactions which involve energy production
• Regulating body temperature
• Eliminating waste

Overall, eating a clean diet and cutting out processed foods will allow our bodies to perform at their best!

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA, C.F.N.C
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

May 30th, 2018

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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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