PTC Blog

I can’t believe summer is over and it is time to get back to school. This week I wanted to talk about the importance of backpack safety and how we can prevent injury to our growing children. Even kids as young as elementary school age, can complain of neck, back and shoulder pain due to improper use or weight of their backpacks.

 Here are a few helpful tips to decrease the risk of backpack related injury.

  • The top of your backpack should sit just below the shoulders and bottom of the backpack should never hang more than 2 inches below the waist.
  • Place heavier items closest to your back. If you find yourself leaning forward to compensate for the weight, the back pack is too heavy and placing a lot on strain on your mid back. Backpacks should never be heavier than 10-15% of the child’s body weight.
  •  Don’t sling your backpack over one shoulder, urge your child to always use both straps.
  • Use the waist strap to help distribute the weight evenly.
  • Sometimes a rolling backpack is necessary. However, keep in mind they are not easy to roll through snow or up stairs which prompts the child to carry it.

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA, CFNC
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

September 4th, 2019

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; that we all know. A good, filling, (and most importantly!) satisfying meal can really set the day up for success. Three of my favorite foods that come to mind when thinking of breakfast? Maple, bacon, and waffles. You will absolutely love these maple, bacon waffles! 
Gather your Ingredients, you’ll need:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup 0% unsweetened greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats, gluten free optional
  • 1 cup chopped cooked bacon


  1. Add eggs through oats to a blender and blend on high until completely combined and oats are broken down. Add chopped bacon and stir to combine.
  2. Heat waffle maker until hot and spray with cooking spray.
  3. Spoon 3/4 cup of the batter into the waffle maker and cook until browned.
  4. Top with butter and more maple syrup.

Share your thoughts below or share your favorite breakfast recipe! 

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

August 29th, 2019

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Foam rolling is great to decrease tightness through the fascia and muscles. The fascia is a fibrous layer of connective tissue that surrounds all of the muscles in the body. The fascia layer sits between the muscles and the skin as a protective layer over the muscles. Foam rolling can help stretch muscles and strengthen core muscles. Here are 5 exercises using a foam roller!

  1. Supine Pec Stretch. Take a long foam roller and lay on it parallel to your spine. Lay on the foam roller from the base of your skull to your tailbone. Bring your arms out to your side. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat at least 2 times.
  2. Swimmers. Laying on a foam roller from the base of your skull to your tailbone. Start with both arms up toward the ceiling. Slowly lower one arm over your head while lowering the other arm towards your hip. Alternate these movements with each arm. Complete 10-20
  3. Dead Bug. Laying on a foam roller from the base of your skull to your tailbone. Bend your knee and have a foot flat on the ground. Have the arm on the opposite side relaxed at your side. Straighten the leg and move the opposite arm over your head. Next move in an opposite motion to raise the other arm and straighten the other leg.
  4. Illiotibial Band. Lie on your side and place the foam roller beneath the outside of your thigh just above the knee. Bring your other leg across the body and plant the foot on the ground. Using your upper body and that leg, roll the outside of the tight back and forth holding over tender spots for up to 10 seconds until the soreness subsides.
  5. Achilles Tendon/Calf. In a seated position with your leg outstretched and your other knee bent, place the foam roller beneath the outstretched leg just above the ankle. Lift your body off the ground with your arms and then roll the lower leg back and forth, holding over tender spots for up to 10 seconds until the soreness subsides. For more compression overlap your other leg over the targeted leg.


    What’s your favorite way to foam roll? Let us know what you think of these exercises! They are great to complete as a part or following your workout!

    Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
    Physical Therapist
    Isanti Physical Therapy

August 17th, 2019

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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 <26 kg 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.

Article first published by The Private Practice Section of The American Physical Therapy Association.

August 11th, 2019

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Do you often hear the question, “Are you drinking enough water?” For many good reasons this is a very important question. A study done by the CDC states that 43% of adults in the United States drink less than 4 cups of water per day. Proper water intake is one of the most important things you can do to live a healthier life.  Why is this so important you may ask? Water makes up ab out 60% of our bodies and is responsible for carrying out all of our body’s normal functions, such as:

  • Transports blood sugars, oxygen and fats to working muscles.
  • Provide structure and protection which cushions and lubricates joints and organs.
  • It is needed for chemical reactions which involve energy production
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Eliminates waste

In regards to appropriate water intake, every one is different; gender, environment, activity level, and illness are some of the factors needed to take into consideration. The Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups of fluid per day for males and 9 cups per day for females. Not every ounce of water needs to come from drinking plain water, 25-30% of our daily requirements come from the foods we eat. For example: a medium orange contains 4 oz of water, 1 cup of carrots contain about 3.8 oz and low fat yogurt contains approximately 7 oz. Keep in mind consuming beverages that are high in caffeine, a diuretic, can create water loss and beverages containing high amounts of sugar result in consuming increased calories that our bodies may not need. When living in hot, humid environments and/or high level athletes your water intake increases to ensure adequate hydration due to the amount of water lost in sweat. When proper hydration is not consumed, dehydration can occur which can cause serious effects to our bodies. Assessing the color of your urine throughout the day can help determine your level of hydration or dehydration. If the color is pale like lemonade you are consuming enough fluids and the darker it is you could becoming dehydrated. Common signs and symptoms of dehydration are but not limited to: headaches, muscle cramping, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and improper tissue healing.Ways to help keep your fluid intake sufficient:

  • Keep a reusable water bottle with you. 
  • Add fresh fruit to your water to give it some flavor without adding a lot of sugar and calories such as apple slices, raspberries, lemon or cucumber slices. 
  • Order water when going out to eat which will also save on the pocket book!!

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA, CFNC 
Physical Therapist Assistant 
Andover Physical Therapy 

August 1st, 2019

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A sports physical or pre–participation physical examination (PPE) is an important step toward safe participation in organized sports. The purpose of the PPE is not to disqualify or exclude an athlete from competition, but rather to attempt to identify those conditions that may place an athlete at increased risk and affect safe participation in organized sports. PPEs should include the following:

1. Family and Medical History

2. Physical Examination
a. general health screening         
b. cardiovascular screening         
c. neurologic screening         
d. orthopedic screening
3. Review of Medication Use
4. Nutritional Assessment
5. Heat and Hydration-Related Illness Risk Factors
6. Mental Health Considerations

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) requires athletes to have a PPE prior to any participation in practices or games.  An updated PPE is required every 3 calendar years. 

The summertime is a great time to take care of completing your PPE prior to the beginning of the fall athletics season.  A number of healthcare organizations offer low cost and sometimes free PPEs during this time.  Please do not wait until the last minute to complete this important safety requirement.

A copy of the MSHSL PPE form can be found HERE.

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

July 24th, 2019

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Summer is finally in full swing! It’s the season of picnics, BBQs, trips to the beach, and other outdoor activities that revolve around food. With all of the outdoor eating activities, here are some tips to keep your food safe and everyone feeling well throughout the summer months!

  1. Keep cold foods cold. Refrigerated foods should be kept at 40°F or below. They shouldn’t sit out for more than 2 hours or more than 1 hour if the temperature is over 90°F. If leaving food out place over ice.
  2. Keep hot foods hot. Hot foods should be kept at over 140°F. Just like with cold foods, they shouldn’t sit out for more than 2 hours or more than 1 hour if the temperature is over 90°F.
  3. Keep coolers closed as much as possible. This will help maintain optimal temperature of the cooler and allow for foods to last longer. Consider bringing a separate cooler for beverages and perishables.
  4. Wash your hands. Wash your hands prior to preparing food, even when you are outside. Can use wipes or hand sanitizer prior to cooking outdoors if water isn’t available.
  5. Don’t cross-contaminate. Keep meat and raw foods securely wrapped, so they don’t contaminate cooked foods

Enjoy these outdoor food safety tips and happy barbecuing! Where is your favorite place to eat outdoors? Let us know in the comments below!

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy

July 10th, 2019

Posted In: General

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A young Little League baseball player is wearing a baseball uniform and holding his baseball glove while smiling and looking at the camera. He is playing on a warm summer day in Utah, USA.

Youth sports injuries have been on the rise for years, and baseball players are not immune to this trend. 1 in 5 players between the ages of 9 and 15 will have an injury each year. The good news is that only 5% of these injuries result in surgery, or being unable to continue to play baseball. More good news comes when you learn that the majority of injuries are preventable with proper training and awareness.

Many of the injuries seen in baseball are common to other youth sports and include things like:

  1. Sprains and strains
  2. Fracture
  3. Minor injuries like bruises, scrapes, abrasions, and muscle cramps

Keys to preventing these types of injuries are making sure that players have a proper base of strength and fitness to participate, adequate warm up before practice and games, and making sure that players have enough recovery time built into their schedules throughout the season.

Injuries Unique to Baseball/Softball

In addition to the common injuries above, baseball sees a large number of injuries due to overuse. These most commonly occur in the shoulder and arm, typically in a pitcher. Parents of athletes who pitch need to be aware of the risks of pitching and guidelines to minimize them. Studies have shown that pitchers who average more than 80 pitches in a game are 4x more likely to get injured. They have also found that pitching for more than 8 months out of the year, causes your injury risk to increase by 5x.

Tips to prevent pitching injuries

  1. Pick a team to pitch for -if you play on multiple teams, choose oneto pitch for and play a different position on the other to reduce the chances of injury
  2. Don’t play a position that requires a lot of throwing on your non-pitching days, like catcher
  3. Take 2 to 4 months off each year from pitching to rest your arm
  4. Keep your arm healthy and strong. The thrower’s ten was developed specifically for throwing athletes and is a good place to start.
  5. Stop pitching if you feel pain, or fatigue. Throwing through problems will change your mechanics and put you at risk for serious injury
  6. Follow the guidelines for rest days and total pitches below.

If you’re 14 or under: 

Pitches ThrownRest Days
1-20 No rest day required
21-351 rest day
36-502 rest days
51-653 rest days
66+4 rest days

15 and under can throw a bit more

Pitches ThrownRest Days
1-30 No rest day required
31-451 rest day
46-602 rest days
61-753 rest days
76+4 rest days

Finally, you should aim to keep under the maximum number of daily pitches set by Little League Baseball and Softball:

AgeMax Pitches Per Day
7-8 50

Article first published by The Private Practice Section of The American Physical Therapy Association.

July 3rd, 2019

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Working in the garden can be both physically and mentally therapeutic. For the average 150 lb. person, you can burn anywhere between 204-340 calories per hour while at the same time mentally unwinding.  It is important to keep proper body mechanics in mind while perform gardening tasks, such as raking, pulling weeds, lifting heavy bags of soil, etc. Having good body mechanics will decrease the risk of injury. 

Here are some tips to help limit that risk.

• Take 5-10 minutes before and after you garden to warm up the muscles and stretch. Stretch the major muscle groups such as hamstrings, quadriceps, back and shoulders.

 • Change your body positions frequently and take breaks.

 • Avoid repetitive bending and twisting which could increase strain on your muscles and joints. Pivot your feet or set up your workspace to limit such motions.

• Get close to your task and use a pad if kneeling. 

• When lifting, bend at the knees leading back with your hips and pull your belly button to your spine to decrease overuse of back muscles. In other words, keep your back straight and use your legs to lift and squat.

• Drink plenty of water throughout the day. 

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

June 26th, 2019

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Recent research is showing that surgery might not be needed as often as we think. A large review estimates that 10% to 20% of surgeries might be unnecessary and that in some specialties such as cardiology and orthopedics, that number might be higher. The reasons for so many unneeded surgeries being performed are varied, but the most common are that more conservative options aren’t tried first, or lack of knowledge by the operating physician.

Physicians undergo long and rigorous training programs to become surgeons, but if they don’t work hard to keep learning, their knowledge often stops growing when they leave residency. Recent research is showing that certain common surgeries aren’t any better than a placebo. Two such examples are kyphoplasty – a procedure for spinal compression fractures, and partial meniscectomy – a procedure used to treat tears of the meniscus in the knee. If a surgeon hasn’t continued to learn, they won’t know that these surgeries often don’t offer any more benefit than a non-surgical treatment and will continue to perform them.

Every surgery, even “minor” ones carry risks. These include complications from anesthesia, blood clots after surgery, delayed healing of the incision, infection, and unintended damage to nerves or other organs near the surgical site. Some of these risks cause discomfort for a period after surgery and go away, but others can result in permanent disability or even death. For some patients and conditions, surgery is a great treatment option, but with all the associated risks, when surgery can be avoided, it should be.

For musculoskeletal problems like back and joint pain, sprains, and strains, seeing your PT before a surgeon can help keep you out of the operating room and get you back to life without surgery. Studies have shown that physical therapy is just as good if not better than surgery for a multitude of conditions and carries less risk. Some examples would include rotator cuff tears, meniscal tears, spinal stenosis, low back pain, and osteoarthritis.

Physical therapy can’t fix every problem, and for some patients surgery is the best choice. However, research is showing that surgery isn’t a cure-all, and is sometimes just a very expensive and risky placebo. In most cases, starting with physical therapy is the right choice, and for many patients, PT is the only treatment necessary.

Article obtained The American Physical Therapy Association Private Practice Section June 2019 Newsletter

June 22nd, 2019

Posted In: General

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