PTC Blog

Who doesn’t like easy healthy meals. Sometimes the last thing I want to think about is what to make for dinner. Especially during these winter months, it can be hard to find the time and motivation to make a good meal. This is why I love the crock pot, a nice one stop shop!   One of my favorites is Chicken Tacos!
Chicken Tacos:    
4 chicken Breasts    
1 bag of frozen corn    
1 can Black beans, drained and rinsed     
1 can Tomatoes with juice   

For Taco seasoning mix together: (Quadruple the recipe to have on hand for future recipes!)

  • tablespoon chili powder
  •  ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 

Place all ingredients in crock pot on High for 4 hours. When Chicken is fully cooked use forks to shred the chicken while in the crock pot and mix ingredients together. Place on whole wheat tortilla with other fixings if desired and enjoy.  One of my favorite substitutions is using plain Greek yogurt for sour cream, more nutrients and less unwanted calories. The chicken mixture is also great on your favorite greens (Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, etc.) for a lighter option.

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc

January 22nd, 2020

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Headaches can be caused by a variety of symptoms including lights, sounds, stress, or even tension through jaw and neck muscles. Headaches can lead to decreased productivity, trouble sleeping, and even a bad mood. Here are 5 exercises that can help relieve headaches caused by increased muscle tension.

  1. Upper Trap Stretch: Keeping your nose pointed straight forward tilt your head to the side, bringing your ear to your shoulder until a gentle stretch is felt on the outside part of your neck. Don’t try to bring your shoulder up to your ear. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2
    times on each side.
  2. Scalene stretch: Place 1 hand on your breast bone, to keep your shoulders down. Gently tip your head back and to the side until you feel a gentle stretch on the front/side of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2 times on each side.
  3. Levator Scapulae stretch: Gently turn your head down, like you are trying to look into your armpit until a stretch is felt. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2 times on each side.
  4. Chin Tucks: Sitting nice and tall, keeping your nose pointed straight forward, gently pull your head back (like you are trying to create a “double chin”. You should feel still on the back of your skull. Hold for 3 seconds and complete 10 repetitions.
  5. Scapular retractions: Again sitting nice and tall, gently pull your shoulders blades back to pinch them together. Try not to raises your shoulders up toward your ears. Hold for 5 seconds. Complete 10 repetitions.

If you are suffering from headaches, these are great beginning exercises to try! If these don’t seem to help or you want more information, give us a call at 1-888-THERAPY. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and help you feel better!

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy

May 1st, 2019

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It’s March Madness!!  I hope you are enjoying all of the college and high school basketball tournament games taking place this month.  It is a great month to be a sports fan!

As an athletic trainer I spend a lot of time working to keep athletes injury-free and to help them rehab from injuries that do occur.  Here are the top 5 most common injuries that occur with basketball participation according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and tips on how to decrease their occurrence.

1. Foot/Ankle Injuries
These injuries are easily the most common seen injuries in basketball.  They include ankle sprains, fractures, and tendonitis.

Prevention: First, make sure you have the appropriate footwear for basketball participation.  Strengthening, balance training, and proper conditioning all help decrease injury risk.

2. Hip/Thigh Injuries
Hip flexor, hamstring, and quadriceps strains are among the most common injuries in basketball.

Prevention: Strengthening, balance training, using proper jumping/landing mechanics, and proper conditioning can decrease injury risk.  Proper warm-up and increasing flexibility can also decrease injury risk.

3. Knee Injuries
Knee injuries including overuse injuries and ligaments sprains/tears have the third highest incidence of occurring in basketball.

Prevention: Once again strengthening, balance training, using proper jumping/landing mechanics, and proper conditioning can decrease injury risk. The use of a proper fitting knee brace may also lessen injury risk.

4. Wrist/Hand Injuries
Wrist and hand injuries account for approximately 11% of basketball injuries occur to the wrist/hand/forearm according to the study.

Prevention: Having good court awareness, hand-eye coordination training, and having proper technique when taking a charge can decrease injury risk.

5. Head/Face Injuries
Injuries to the head and face are hard to prevent.  They include concussions, contusions, nose and eye injuries, and lacerations.

Prevention: The important thing to watch out for here is concussion symptoms and to make sure they are managed by a healthcare professional with concussion management expertise.

One very interesting statistic that was found in the NATA report is that roughly 60% of injuries occur in the second half of games, suggesting that fatigue plays a big part in when injuries are most likely to occur.  Managing playing time throughout a game may play a role in staying injury-free.

If you are experiencing pain from a sports related injury our rehabilitation experts can help!  Visit to request a free consultation and a member of our care team will call you to answer any questions you may have.


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


March 21st, 2018

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates there is 1.6-3.8 million concussions in sports and recreational activities every year. However, because not all individuals seek medical attention this number is greatly underestimated.

What is a concussion? A concussion is a “trauma-induced alteration in mental status that may or may not involve loss of consciousness.”

Symptoms of a concussion can present very differently among individuals. Some of the more common signs and symptoms include headache, feeling “foggy”, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, being easily confused, slowed thought processes, difficulty remembering, nausea, lack of energy, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and/or noise, and abnormal mood changes.

Post Injury Management:
When a concussion occurs it is important for the following initial steps to be taken.

• Rest, rest, rest (remove from athletic participation, decrease screen time, decrease other physical and cognitive exertion activities). Past literature used to suggest to not let the patient sleep or to wake them up throughout the night, however this is no longer the case and it’s important to let them rest unless otherwise instructed by a physician.
• See a physician that specializes in concussion management within the first 1-3 days after injury
• Stay hydrated
• Avoid physical or mental exertion, especially in the acute phases
• Decrease any activities that increase symptoms, such as TV, electronics etc.
• Avoid medications other than acetaminophen (Tylenol)
• Eat a well-balanced diet
• Academic accommodations (Physicians can prescribe accommodations to help students navigate the return to learn process.)
• Avoid ingesting alcohol, drugs or other substances

Home care:
After a concussion is diagnosed their needs to be communication between all those involved. This includes family, school personnel (coaches, teachers, counselors etc.), school medical personnel (ATCs, school nurse), and community referral sources (team physician, physical therapist and other healthcare providers). The home healthcare plan should involve frequent follow-ups with the continuing monitoring of concussion signs and symptoms. Patients and their parents or significant others need to be aware of the signs and symptoms that indicate a deteriorating condition and warrants immediate referral to the ER. Those included are listed below.

• Decreasing level of consciousness
• Increasing confusion
• Increasing irritability
• Loss of or fluctuating level of consciousness
• Numbness in the arms or legs
• Pupils becoming unequal in size
• Repeated vomiting
• Seizures
• Slurred speech or inability to speak
• Inability to recognize people or places
• Worsening headache

Return to Play Criteria:
It is important to note no patient/athlete diagnosed with a concussion should return to sport or physical activity the same day of injury. Once an individual/athlete is diagnosed with a concussion the return-to-play progression does not start until he/she no longer reports any concussion related symptoms, has a normal clinical exam, and performs at or above preinjury levels of functioning on all objective concussion assessments.

According to the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) there are six stages when following a return-to play progression.
• Stage one: No activity
• Stage two: light exercise: <70% age-predicted maximal heart rate
• Stage three: sport specific activities (non-contact)
• Stage four: noncontact training drills, resistance training
• Stage five: unrestricted training (full contact)
• Stage six: return to play

It should be noted that there needs to be at least 24 hours between each stage. If at any time a certain activity returns symptoms or a decrease in test performance is seen, the activity should be immediately stopped and started again in 24 hours at the same stage the symptoms occurred previously.

Allyssa Hoopman, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.


information obtained from:

Broglio, Steven P., et al. “National Athletic Trainers Association Position Statement:
Management of Sport Concussion.” Journal of Athletic Training, vol. 49, no. 2, 2014, pp. 245–265., doi:10.4085/1062-6050-49.1.07.

March 7th, 2018

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February is American Heart Month.  Here are the top 5 tips to keep your heart healthy to celebrate this month and all year long!

  1. Exercise! ACSM recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 days/week for a total of 150 minutes per week.
  2. Avoid smoking or secondhand smoke. If you smoke, use one of many options to help you quit. Also try to avoid secondhand smoke if at all possible.  Smoking and secondhand smoke put a lot of stress on the lungs, which puts increased stress on the heart.
  3. Manage Stress. Take a few minutes to decompress and de-stress. In this busy world it’s hard to find time to unplug and take a few minutes for yourself, but your heart will thank you for it!
  4. Drink in moderation. If you choose to consume alcohol, limit yourself to 1-2 drinks per day. Moderate alcohol consumption is considered 2 drinks/day for men and 1 drink/day for women.
  5. Sleep! Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep can cause increased stress on the heart, increase blood pressure and calcium in the arteries.

Heart Disease is still the #1 cause of death in the United States. Keep your heart healthy with these tips, and don’t forget to get yearly physicals to guarantee heart health.

What are some of your favorite ways to maintain heart health? Let us know by commenting below!

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


February 28th, 2018

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According to Carey and Freburger, more than 80% of Americans will experience an episode of low back pain at some time in their lives. There are many things that cause back pain such as an acute injury or improper use of muscles. It is important to keep our core muscles strong and working properly to decrease the risk of injury.
So what exactly is our CORE? The core consists of muscles surrounding the torso; front, back, sides and pelvis.

Some of my favorite exercises to do are: Bridging, Dead Bug, Bird Dogs, Planks and Clamshells. Keep in mind all the exercises should be performed activating your lower abdominals, most importantly the transverse abdominis. This muscle is characterized as your internal girdle, helping support and unload your spine. By pulling your belly button to your spine, slightly decreasing the curve in your low back this muscle can be activated. I always say if you tighten your stomach as if you were bracing yourself to receive a punch, this will help engage the transverse abdominis.

While lying on your back, tighten your lower abdominals, squeeze your buttocks and then raise your buttocks off the floor/bed as creating a “Bridge” with your body. Hold and then lower yourself and repeat.

Dead Bug
While lying on your back with your knees and hips bent to 90 degrees, tightening lower abdominals to keep your back flat, slowly straighten out a leg without touching the floor. At the same time raise an opposite arm over head. Do not allow your spine to arch during this movement.
Retrun to starting position and then repeat on the opposite side.

Bird Dogs
While on all fours, brace at your abdominals and then slowly straighten a leg and opposite arm upwards. Maintain a level and stable pelvis and spine the entire time.
Retrun to starting position and then repeat on the opposite side.

Planks (Forward and Side)
While lying face down, lift your body up on your elbows and toes. Keep your elbows under your shoulders and maintain a straight spine. Do not allow your hips to drop. This can be performed on knees as well.

While lying on your side with your knees bent, keep your elbow under your shoulder and shoulder, hip and knee in a line, lift your body up on your elbow and knees. To progress this try going onto your toes versus your knees.

While lying on your side with your knees bent, draw up the top knee while keeping contact of your feet together.  Do not let your hip roll back during the lifting movement.

Perform each exercise until fatigue and 2 sets of each progressing to 3 sets as you can. If you are experiencing low back pain, seek help from a physical therapist.

Pictures courtesy of HEP2go.

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Andover Physical Therapy

February 21st, 2018

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February celebrates Heart Health! As a dietitian with Coborn’s, I have the opportunity to work with clients on building a lifestyle that focuses on choosing the right types of foods and in the right amounts. Our goal is to make the healthy choice, the easy choice! Along with that comes some simple nutrition education. Here’s a brief run-down of a heart healthy diet:

  • More Fruits and Vegetables. They are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! All forms matter- try fresh, frozen, dried and even canned varieties to get more fruits and vegetables into your daily routine.
  • Whole Grains. Grains are important, but what’s key is choosing the right types of grains in the right amounts. Choosing whole grains offers more fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and so much more! Make the whole grain choices when shopping for bread, pasta, cereal, granola bars, and snack crackers. Tip: Shopping tip: For a product to be whole grain, WHOLE must be the 1st ingredient on the ingredients list. For example, look for ‘whole wheat flour’ on the back of your breads!
  • Lean Protein. Look for lean sources of protein throughout the store. This includes meat and seafood, nuts and seeds, + dairy products! Here is a cheat sheet to help you pick out lean sources of meat and seafood next time you’re at the store.
  • Low-fat Dairy. In the Midwest, we love our cheese and our dairy products! The American Heart Association still recommends dairy products that are low-fat. There are plenty of milk, yogurt and cheese options at the store. The tricky part is consuming them in the right portion sizes.
  • Limit Sodium & Saturated Fat. Limit your sodium by cooking more with herbs and spices, or simply start using some Mrs. Dash blends, which are salt-free and have great flavor. Limit saturated fat intake by choosing low fat/fat-free dairy products and lean meats.

Simple substitution for your daily meals and snacks! Here are some ways in which you can make the swap for better nutrition! Remember, make small changes and overtime it will become a lifestyle, not just a short-term “diet”.

  • Try 100% whole grain bread over white bread
  • Try whole wheat pasta over white pasta – don’t like the texture? Do a 50/50 mixture of whole grain and white pasta
  • Choose chicken breasts and other sources of lean protein as listed in the handout provided Here
  • Enjoy a bowl of low-fat yogurt with some fresh fruit for a sweet treat. (tip: aim for less than 10 grams of sugar per serving in your yogurt).
  • Simply start by filling your plate 1⁄2 with fruits and vegetable before adding on your other foods.
  • When seasoning chicken breasts, sirloins, or whatever lean meat you choose, simple season it with Mrs. Dash. It’s a salt-free seasoning that is full of herbs and spices to offer great flavor without the sodium.

If you’re looking for more ideas, schedule a grocery store tour with me! I’ll take you through the aisles and help you identify better-for-you foods in every department of the store. It’s like having a personal shopper, but I don’t pay the bill! Reach out via our website at to schedule an appointment.


Happy & healthy eating,


Amy Peick, RD, LD
Coborn’s- Isanti, MN
Supermarket Registered Dietitian

February 14th, 2018

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Wow, what an entertaining Super Bowl! Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles!   The offensives for both participating teams were amazing!  The amount of yards and points scored in the game will be remembered for a long time.

As an athletic trainer I tend to look a little closer at another aspect of football, the medical care provided to the players.  Being able to appropriately evaluate and treat injuries over the course of such a fast-paced game can be tricky and the policies and procedures will continue to evolve.  It takes a team effort to provide appropriate and comprehensive medical care to players.  Here is a look at the medical professionals that are present during every NFL game:

Each sideline has:

  • 4 Athletic Trainers – Assess and treat player injuries in conjunction with team doctors
  • 2 Orthopedic Medical Doctors – Evaluate and treat players for injuries to the bones and joints
  • 2 Primary Care Physicians – Evaluate players for general medical conditions and concussions
  • 1 Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant – Evaluates players for possible head injuries and concussions
  • 1 Chiropractor – Provides back/spinal adjustments for players and treats muscular injuries

Each stadium has these additional members of the medical team present on gameday

  • 1 Dentist – Treats dental issues
  • 2 Independent Athletic Trainers – Notify on-field staff of possible injuries from the press box. The independent Athletic Trainer spotters can call a medical timeout to stop the game to have a player receive medical attention.
  • 1 Airway Management Physician – Provides emergency intubation to severely injured, non-breathing players
  • 2 EMTs/Paramedic Crew – Transport players to hospital in the event of serious injuries
  • 1 Radiology Technician – Takes x-rays of injured players at the stadium
  • 1 Ophthalmologist – Treats eye injuries
  • 1 Visiting Team Medical Liaison – Local emergency physician certified to practice medicine in the state where the game is being played. The VTML works with the team to provide access to care, medication and first-rate medical facilities.

Although the Minnesota Vikings came up short in the NFC title game last month, their medical team was honored with a big award. The Vikings athletic training staff was recognized last month as the Ed Block Courage Award NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year. The Ed Block Courage Award for NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year is voted on by all 32 NFL athletic training staffs and the members of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society and recognizes one NFL athletic training staff annually for their distinguished service to their club, community, and athletic training profession. CONGRATULATIONS!

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

February 8th, 2018

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Keeping kids active in the winter can be difficult. It is so easy to stay inside during the winter, especially in Minnesota during times of subzero temperatures. There are actually lots of fun ways to keep kids active indoors. Here are a few ways to burn off a little energy!

Have an indoor snowball fight
Whether you use balled up socks or crumpled tissue paper to get everyone moving. For easy clean up, you can have a snowball free throw contest into a laundry basket.

Play indoor ice hockey
Bend the bottom of a wrapping paper tube and use tape to hold it in the shape of a hockey stick.  Add a ball, a sock or jar lid and you are ready to play.

Have a dance party
Crank up the music and get moving. Move the furniture around so you have a large open space. March, stomp, twirl, jump, and hop. Get out some fun musical instruments. Join in and have fun!

Have hallway races
Let your little ones and/or their friends race down the hallway. Make it even more fun and tape up a piece of party streamer for them to bust through.

Bring outdoor toys that keep kids active inside
Think jump ropes, balls, push toys, hula hoops, small toy cars, and even small portable sliding boards.

Exercise together
Do jumping jacks or push ups, run in place, or try sit ups.

Play Simon Says…. and make it as active as possible.

Let little ones jump from cushion to cushion
Pull the cushions off the couch and tell them the floor is lava and that they can’t touch it.

Create a fun indoor obstacle course
Make tunnels to crawl under, hurdles to jump over and poles to weave through. Have your kids jumping, balancing and so much more!

Let us know some of your kiddos favorite indoor winter activities. We would love to hear them!

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


January 31st, 2018

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There are so many options available in the healthcare field to help you find relief and decrease pain. It can be overwhelming to filter through all the information to determine what is going to be the most effective for you. Today we are going to answer commonly asked questions about medical massage.

What is medical massage? Medical massage is a type of massage that focuses on a specific area of the body that is causing you pain or discomfort. You will complete a brief screening with a physical therapist before getting your massage. The screening consists of a brief medical history, assessment of your range of motion, and may include special tests to determine the cause of your pain. These screenings help your massage therapist know which areas to focus on to help decrease your pain and improve any limitations you may have.

Will I need a screening at every massage appointment? No. If you are being seen for the same area of the body, you will not need another screening after your initial visit. The physical therapist will be available to address any concerns you may have along the way.

Is medical massage covered by insurance? Yes….uhhh No… well, sometimes! It is probably not the straight forward answer you are looking for but it is the honest answer. Medical massage may be covered by your insurance, but it is always best to check with your insurance provider to determine what coverage is available for your plan.

Can I do medical massage and physical therapy? Yes, many times medical massage and physical therapy are recommended to be done together. They are not always recommended together but results are being seen faster when both are being used to decrease pain.

Why does medical massage and physical therapy give you faster results? We are seeing quicker results when the two techniques are completed together because the massage helps to decrease the muscle tightness and get rid of pesky knots while physical therapy is strengthening the right muscles in order to fix the cause of the problem. Often times physical therapy treatments are a great partner with medical massage because of the amount of time the massage therapist can spend hands on with you, followed by the expertise the physical therapy team has to keep you feeling better.


Do I need a doctor’s referral for medical massage? The only time you would need a doctor’s referral for a medical massage is when insurance requires a referral for coverage. Again, it is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage for medical massage.

If you are unsure if medical massage if right for you, talk to a physical therapist. You can also use the free consultation feature available on our website to learn more about this service and its benefits. Visit to request a free consultation and a member of our care team will call you to answer any questions you may have.

Now that we have answered a few common questions related to medical massage, we want to hear from you! Post your comments or more questions below!

Jackie Giese, LPTA
Community Outreach Coordinator
Physical Therapy Consultants

January 25th, 2018

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