PTC Blog

Raise your hand if you’re able to recall images of residual purple circles located on the upper back and shoulders of Michael Phelps during his debut at the 2016 summer olympics in Rio. If not, just “Google” the phrase “Phelps and cupping” and you’ll see the impact that was made on the internet 2.5 years ago. This is arguably when “cupping” first became apparent to most Americans. However, “cupping” has actually been around much longer than when Olympians popularized it a few years ago. In fact, it has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for hundreds of centuries. The technique involves placing cups of various size on the skin. A little air pump is placed on a valve to create negative pressure, which results in the suction of skin to be pulled away from underlying muscle. A common side effect of the technique is the famous purple circles that members of the US olympic teams sported in 2016. If the concept still seems foreign, realize that the purple circle side effect is the same reason that a person gets a “hickey.” Like a hickey, the bruising should go away within a couple of days.

What does “cupping” do?
Physiologically, cupping promotes an increase in blood flow to the affected area, which therefore increases the healing rate of sore or injured tissues.

But wait! Don’t we already have modalities that are thought to increase blood flow? Why can’t I just throw a hot pack on my back?

You could just kick back and try to relax with a hot pack, but there is another unique physiological response to cupping that promotes healing that traditional modalities do not offer. The medical term for cupping is “myofascial decompression.” This is because the suction created by the cup creates separation between the muscle and fascial connective tissue layers. This process is thought to break up adhesions and scar tissue and thus decrease myofascial dysfunction in a manner that other modalities cannot.

Another unique and beneficial property that cupping aka myofascial decompression allows for that a hot pack does not is that it can be combined with other therapies at the same time, essentially giving you “better bang for your buck.” Reduced muscle pain is usually experienced immediately while the cups are applied, allowing for increased participation in movement exercises while keeping the cups on. Moreover, when used correctly, cupping can even allow for neuromuscular feedback to the brain to promote healing. In other words, the brain is being re-programmed to relax one muscle (the cupped muscle) while concurrently activating the other muscles that need to be recruited. Don’t worry as much about this part, this is where your movement expert (your Physical Therapist and/or Physical Therapist Assistant) comes into the equation.

Okay, does it work?
Yes! Over the last several years, there has been a surplus of emerging clinical evidence that supports the use of cupping for various orthopedic conditions. There are several randomized control trials with outcomes such as less pain and improved range of motion, both short term and long term, when a group of individuals received myofascial decompression as an adjunct to their treatment plan than if groups had not.

Are there any people for whom cupping should not be performed?
Also, yes. Precaution should be used if a person is taking blood thinners due to concern of bleeding and cupping should not be performed on a person with hemophilia (a specific blood clotting disease). Talk to your physician or doctor of physical therapy about concerns you may have and to find out if cupping is right for you.


Holly Kramer, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy

March 20th, 2019

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Every year January 1st rolls around and like most, we make some sort of resolution. Approximately 50% of those resolutions are about weight loss and by the end of February 80% of those resolutions have gone to the back burner. It is great to have goals and strive to be the best you but instead of getting stuck on “I need to lose 20 pounds in 2 months”, try making these simple life style changes to keep things running more smoothly and less stressful. Now that it is March let’s start over!

One of our fabulous physical therapist assistants spoke to us a few weeks ago about some of the changes that can be made:

  • Drink plenty of water; shoot for half your body weight in ounces.
  • Stay away from processed and fried foods.
  • Eat complex carbs, like fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Stay away from simple carbs, like sugar, cookies, candy, pop, etc. (Fact: Two medium chocolate chip cookies equal close to 400 calories. To burn 400 calories, the average person must briskly walk at least 4 miles.)
  • Get enough sleep: 7-8 hours. Sleep deprivation has been shown to lead to strong carvings and poor eating habits.
  • Eat more fatty acids, Omega 3’s. FISH! FISH! FISH! (at least twice week).
  • Eat BREAKFAST!! Skipping causes 40%fewer calories toe burned during the day.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Standing burners 20% more than sitting. Stand whenever you can!!
  • Turn down the thermostat: your body has to work harder to help keep normal body temperature, so you burn more calories.
  • Get 10 minutes of direct sunlight daily when possible.
  • Have a protein with each meal. It helps kick up our metabolism by 25% to boost up your energy level.
  • Exercise! Your muscles are your metabolism. They are the only things that burn fat for fuel in our body. Whenever you strengthen or tone a muscle, you automatically increase your metabolism to increase your ability to lose weight and create energy! On average, a sedentary person will lose about ½ a pound of muscle tissue each year from the age 35 on.
  • Control stress. Whenever stressed, your body makes and overproduction of cortisol (stress hormone). This will cause your body to produce more fat cells which your body will store away usually around the waist line.
  • Relaxation techniques: “Time out for you!” Try to incorporate things daily that make you HAPPY! Examples: reading a book, listening to music, conversation with a friend, hot bath, getting a massage, yoga, meditation, or any form of exercise!

Find a friend or partner to make these changes and work together to keep each other accountable.

Kerra Pietsch , LPTA and Brenda Cowles, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistants
Andover Physical Therapy

Janice Novak, Licensed Dietitian
American Council on Exercise: article on Metabolism, Tiffani Bachus, RDN
Obesity, Diet and Behaviour: Michael Howard, Ph. D

March 13th, 2019

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Spring break is just around the corner. The kids will be home from school. Do you have plans to keep them busy? There are plenty of things to do and see in Minnesota, both indoors and out, for all ages. Here are a few ideas to keep your family busy during Sprink Break vacation.

Aquariums and Zoos
Do your kids go wild for animals? Escape the cold and immerse yourself in tropical weather on the Minnesota Zoo’s Tropics Trail or pay a visit to their newest addition, a baby Malayan tapir. Stroll through the Como Zoo to see a variety of animals while being surrounded by lush tropical plants.

In downtown St. Paul, treat your kids to a day at the newly renovated Minnesota Children’s Museum, which added 10 new permanent exhibits in 2017.

Rock Climbing
Have you ever wanted to try rock climbing? Vertical Endeavors caters to families looking for an afternoon of fun and can even challenge serious climbers. The St. Paul location is the largest indoor rock climbing facility in the country. Vertical Endeavors also has locations in Duluth and Minneapolis. Rental equipment is available.

Make a Splash at a Waterpark
In Thief River Falls, visit The Seven Clans Casino Park to enjoy four large waterslides, three mini-slides, two hot tubs, a lazy river and more or at Water Park of America in Bloomington

Hit the Slopes
Depending on the weather, skiing and snowboarding could either be is pretty much done, or still going strong! If your kids want one last chance to play in the snow, Wild Mountain and Afton Alps are usually the last two local holdouts, staying open for one more week, with skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. Kids have to be 42″ tall and over 4 years old to go snow tubing.

You don’t have to travel across the country to enjoy your Spring Break this year. Hope you have a fun family spring break with a few of these ideas in the metro.

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

March 6th, 2019

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Athletic Trainers (AT’s) are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. AT’s have unique skills to identify injury risk potentials, create strategies to reduce risk of injury, and promote healthy choices for employees. Incorporating the skill set of AT’s into the workplace has proven to provide not only a reduction in recordable injury rates, but a positive benefit in overall health and wellness for a company’s employees.

Companies that contract for or provide Industrial Health Injury Prevention Services show a significant return on their investment:

  • 100% of companies reported a favorable return-on-investment
  • 30% indicated the ROI was at least $7/employee per $1 invested
  • 83% indicated the ROI was more than $3/employee per $1 invested
  • 94% indicated the severity of injuries had decreased by at least 25%
  • 68% reported a decrease in restricted workdays and workers’ compensation claims for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) by more than 25%
  • 50% reported that the number of injuries decreased by at least 50%
  • 46% reported that health care costs decreased by more than 50

(Data obtained by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association through a national survey of industrial companies that utilize the services of an Athletic Trainer.)

Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc. provides services designed to increase workplace safety through Education, Preparation, Wellness and Rehabilitation. We focus on injury prevention, but also have the expertise to help injured workers recover more quickly.


Ergonomics Training
Employees receive training in how to fit the work to the worker and best utilize their bodies. Improving workplace ergonomics helps reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders by decreasing at risk behaviors and body positions.

Injury Prevention Education
Knowing the “WHY” is important to employees when changing a potential injury risk behavior. Injury Prevention Education answers the “WHY” by tying together ergonomics with anatomy and physiology to explain the importance of developing safe work habits.

Monthly Health Topics
Employees receive information through presentations, handouts, and other means on topics relevant to injury prevention, general health and wellness, and current “hot” topics.


Ready for Work Warm-Up
We work with employers to implement a pre-shift warm-up program consisting of stretching and movement patterns that prepare employees for the physical tasks of their job.

New Hire Training
We help in the development of safe work practices of new employees. Reinforcing proper technique early in a new hire’s employment can lower their risk of musculoskeletal injuries that occur as the result of bad work place habits.

Job Demands Analysis
We examine and quantify the specific physical demands required to perform a given job. This information is used to create accurate, objective, and reliable job descriptions.

Post-Offer Employment Testing (POET)
By utilizing the job demands analysis we create and administer a testing procedure to assess if an individual is physically capable of performing a specific job to proactively minimize the risk of injury.


Non-Recordable Discomfort Management
Early intervention is key to preventing discomfort from becoming a recordable injury. Many forms of discomfort can be managed by our healthcare professionals within the OSHA guidelines for first aid that do not result in a recordable injury. Not only are recordable injury rates decreased, but employee productivity increases when people are working without discomfort.

Injury/Illness Preventative Screenings
Preventative screenings look to identify areas of physical limitations that can be addressed through our strength and conditioning programs. We offer a number of different injury preventative screenings to meet the needs of your employees.

Strength and Conditioning Programs
Healthy employees who exercise regularly have a reduced the number of sick days, improved productivity, and reduced long term health issues and disease. No matter the industry, our experts can be advocates in helping employees improve their overall health and wellness. Programs can be specific to the individual or company wide.


Individualized Physical Therapy
Our goal to help the injured worker recover as quickly and safely as possible. Our team of experts utilize the most recent evidence-based skills to create a comprehensive plan to help the injured worker.

Work Conditioning
Work Conditioning utilized the employee’s job description or job demands analysis to create an individualized program to prepare the worker for their return to full work duties. It is a highly structured, goal-oriented program designed to bridge the gap between Physical Therapy and return to work.  (learn more here)

Hybrid Conditioning Program
This program combines Physical Therapy and Work Conditioning. Injured workers avoid overall body deconditioning while still having focus on treatment of the injured body part. This program is perfect for post-surgical patients, post-concussion management, and reoccurring injuries.

Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs)
A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) identifies a person’s level of ability to participate in work. An FCE identifies accommodations or modifications that can be made to keep the worker in the same work or guide alternative work.


Please contact us at or call 612-558-7120 to learn more and to find out what specific services will benefit your business.


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


February 27th, 2019

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On February 5th, myself and 2 other coworkers attended the Physical Therapy Day on the Hill at the State Capitol in St. Paul. This is an annual event sponsored by Minnesota Physical Therapy Association to lobby for new legislation related to the field of physical therapy. Did you know that rules and regulations regarding what physical therapists can do vary from state to state? For example, in some states physical therapists can order imaging and in other states physical therapists aren’t allowed to perform dry needling. The legislature and the governor have the ultimate authority over what laws and privileges physical therapists have. This is why it’s so important to educate government officials on the importance of physical therapy!

This year, the primary topic we were educating the legislature on was a bill that would allow physical therapists to authorize disability parking permits to patients. Currently MDs, chiropractors, PAs, and nurse practitioners are the only medical professionals that are allowed to authorize the permits. Physical therapists are one of the only professions that have standardized testing to determine a patient’s fall risk and are constantly assessing a person’s mobility. Therefore, they would be a great profession to be able to authorize the permits. The bill passed in both the House and Senate transportation committees. In the House, it will go to a floor vote, and in the Senate, the bill was transferred to another committee. Hopefully soon, physical therapists will be able to authorize disability parking permits for our patients! This will decrease overall medical costs, as patients won’t have to return to their MDs just for a parking permit.

You might think what does this have to do with me? Our legislature works for us! We have to tell them what we want! Do you love your physical therapist and are so happy they got you back to doing the things you love? Are you happy that you can see a physical therapist without a referral? Do you wish you could go to physical therapy more often, but because of high co-pays or deductibles it is too expensive? Let your representative know! That’s the first step to creating change and improving access to physical therapy! There will be plenty of other topics that relate to the physical therapy field in the upcoming years. Stay tuned!

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

February 20th, 2019

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Whether you are currently a runner or you are thinking about getting into the sport as a fun spring activity to reach your health and cardiovascular goals, you may have to recharge your program and start slow and low to avoid injury or return to previous level of fitness.

Sometimes this can be hard to know where to start. One of the main objectives with setting up a return to running program is starting at a slow pace and building up your endurance to avoid injury and build your tolerance to increased activities. Many times we will want to push through our pain because we believe that will get us to reach our goals quicker. A lot of times this can result in burn out and pain which can lead to dropping off your program all together.

It is important to find a realistic starting point in your fitness level and build up from there. Many times an interval training program is a good way to start. In this way you can build your cardio endurance and strength slowly with out feeling like you are pushing past your limits. The following link is a good resource to an example of an interval training program that can get you moving in the right direction. Many times it is smart to start slow, even at a brisk walk and build up your pace as your program progresses.

If you are looking for a good program, take a look at this Return to Running Progression:

Along with an interval program to slowly build up endurance and strength it is good to also
strengthen the muscles surrounding the lower extremity joints and core to reduce stresses
through these areas with over use. Here are a couple basic exercises to build both strength and

  • heel raises
  • side laying hip abduction
  • bridges
  • lunges
  • planks (forward/side)
  • hamstring stretch
  • quadriceps stretch
  • piriformis stretch

It is also important to point out that cross training with other activities like yoga, cycling, and weight lifting is a good way to improve strength and health while also mixing up your program to avoid over use injury. And don’t forget to add in a good warm up before jumping into your activities. Good blood flow and muscle extensibility before asking your muscles to perform strenuous tasks with help to reduce the chance of injury.

A physical therapist is also a great resource to use as you begin your running program. A physical therapist can help not only increase your strength and cardiovascular endurance but also ensure that you are efficient in your running style. Feel free to reach out to one of our clinic locations to get started on your running program!

Lauren Rood, PTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Isanti Physical Therapy

February 13th, 2019

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February is American Heart Awareness month which brings attention to the growing epidemic in America. According to the CDC 630,000 people die each year from heart related illnesses which is about ¼ of all deaths in the United States. Another eye opening statistic in the United States is, every 40 seconds someone has a heart attack! Heart disease is not only affecting our older populations but the young as well, as we have grown into more sedentary lifestyles. Heart disease is a term used to describe several different heart conditions with the most common being coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is a buildup of plaque in the artery walls which supply blood to the heart and other parts of the body. About ½ of all Americans have one of the top 3 risk factors for heart disease. The top 3 risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. If you have a family history of heart disease you are at a greater risk. Thankfully there are many things you can do to decrease your chances of getting heart disease such as:

  • Maintaining good blood pressure and keeping cholesterol under control with a healthy diet and exercise. Get it checked yearly to know your numbers.
  • A healthy diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. Limit saturated fats, trans fats, foods high in sodium and added sugar.
  • Exercise regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Moderate intensity activity includes a brisk walk (at least 2.5 mph), water aerobics, gardening and biking (slower than 10 mph). Vigorous activity includes running, hiking uphill, biking faster than 10 mph, aerobic dance and heavy yard work. If you are just starting out on becoming more active, try breaking up the day in 10 minute bouts 2-3 times per day. Kids ages 3-5 should have plenty of opportunities throughout the day to be active. Kids ages 6-17 should perform 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. Getting enough exercise will also decrease stress levels which extreme stress levels can be a trigger for a heart attack.
  • Limit alcohol. Alcohol can increase blood pressure and the extra calories can cause weight gain.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can also increase blood pressure. It decreases the oxygen in the blood and damages the lining of the arteries creating plaque buildup narrowing blood flow to the heart.
  • Drink plenty of water. It is recommended to drink 64oz of water a day and in recent findings trying to aim more for half you body weight in ounces. Example: if you weigh 170 lbs try to drink 85oz of water. Water keeps all our organs working more efficiently and decreases blood thickness allowing it to travel to an from the heart better.
  • Get adequate sleep. Adults are recommended to get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. When sleep is decreased it increases the risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

Overall making healthy lifestyle changes can decrease the risk or heart disease. Follow up with your medical doctor when starting a new program to address any concerns and ensure a safe program. Working with a physical therapist can also help create a program for you, tailored to fit your abilities and goals.

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


February 6th, 2019

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There are a few things as scary as getting into a car accident. Potential injuries, property damage, and insurance deductibles are just a few things that can make the entire experience that much worse. One question that often arises in the aftermath is whether or not you should see a physical therapist after a car accident

One of the more common injuries that occurs to individuals in a car accident is “whiplash.” It occurs when the neck extends beyond its normal range of motion. As a result, people may develop the following symptoms:

  • Pain and stiffness in the head, neck, and shoulders
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Chronic migraines or headaches
  • Tingling and numbness in the upper extremities
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Occasionally, blurred vision and memory problems

How Can Physical Therapy (PT) Help?

1) PT Supports The Recovery Process
Patients often don’t realize how bad their car accident-related injuries are until after they’ve returned to their normal daily activities. Common injuries typically include pain, stiffness, reduced range of motion, and chronic headaches or migraines. Physical Therapy will include a combination of hands on with therapuetic exercies to help reduce muscle tension and can help manage your pain.

2) PT Can Prevent Long-Term Damage
Physical therapy not only helps address immediate injuries by improving strength, flexibility, and mobility, but it can also prevent long-term damage like chronic pain and migraines. Unfortunately, car accidents can cause lingering damage if the patient’s injuries are not addressed right away.

3) PT May Help Patients Avoid Surgery
While serious car accident injuries will likely need surgery right away, non-life-threatening injuries are not exactly exempt from surgery altogether. In fact, a car accident injury, combined with natural wear and tear, may require the need for surgery later in life.

Don’t delay any longer! We accept auto insurance and are open convenient hours to meet your needs.
If you’re having pain from a new or old car accident injury, call our clinic today to schedule your appointment.

Visit our website for more information


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

January 30th, 2019

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Dot Drills

The dots should be placed in a 2′ x 3′ rectangle, with one dot in the middle. Each dot should be about 5″ in diameter. You can spray paint the dots onto your garage or basement floor, or onto an old piece of carpet. You could also use something less permanent such as sidewalk chalk or tape.

The Dot Drill consists of 5 movements, performed 6 times each.

  1. Hour Glass (always facing forward) – over and back equals one rep
  2. Right Foot “Slalom” (in, out, over, in, out, over) – back to the original dot equals one rep
  3. Left Foot “Slalom” (in, out, over, in, out, over) – back to the original dot equals one rep
  4. Two Foot “Slalom” (in, out, over, in, out, over) – back to the original dot equals one rep.
  5. Hour Glass with Spin – over and back equals one rep

Speed Ladder Agility Drills

  1. Forward-running, high-knee drill – Run with high knees through the ladder, touching every ladder space. Landing on the balls of your feet and drive forward with your arms. Repeat
  2. Lateral-running, side to side drill – Improves both knee and ankle stability. Keep a low center of gravity, step side-to-side through the ladder one foot at a time. Touch in each space of the ladder with both feet. Land on the balls of the feet. Repeat right to left and left to right.
  3. Cross-over – Cross one foot over the other in a lateral run, touching each foot in the space. Lean towards one direction to propel yourself through the agility ladder with speed.

There are many other different ladder drills to improve agility.

Plyometric Box Drills

Will help to improve foot speed and explosive power. Boxes can range from 14 inches to 36 inches in height.

Some of the more popular plyo box drills:

  1. Step-ups – Start by standing in front of the box. Step up onto the box with one leg, then bring the other leg up as you straighten both legs. Step back down and repeat on the opposite side for one rep. Repeat 10 times for one set. Complete three sets.
  2. Lateral stepovers – Start by standing to the side of the box. Step laterally onto the box with one leg, then bring the other leg up so that you’re standing on top of the box. Step down with one leg, then bring the other leg down to the ground. Continue for one set of 10 reps. Complete three sets.
  3. For box jumps – Start by standing in front of the box. Jump up onto the box, landing with both feet. Jump back down from the box, then immediately jump back up. Continue for one set of 10 reps. Complete three sets.

Krista Rudnick, MHA, LAT, ATC, ITAT
Athletic Trainer
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.


January 23rd, 2019

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Chances are you’ve come across the old dental health adage: “Floss the teeth you want to keep.” The first time you spotted this sign in a dental office or heard the phrase uttered word-for-word by the dentist probably elicited a giggle or a snarky remark. But once the humor of it washed away, you more than likely had an a-ha moment. It just makes so much sense, doesn’t it?

Let’s try to apply this principle to other parts of the human body: What if you only stretched the muscles you wanted to keep? What if you performed weight-bearing exercises to maintain the strength of just a few of your more than 200 muscles? This is an extreme example, of course, but without the guidance of a physical therapist, it’s possible that some parts of your musculoskeletal system may be inadvertently neglected.

Physical therapists are trained to identify and treat a wide range of movement disorders including sports injuries such as sprains and strains as well as conditions including arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke. The rehab professionals work closely with patients to develop individualized plans based on thorough assessments and detailed patient histories. A personalized care plan will include some combination of flexibility, strength, coordination and balance exercises designed to achieve optimal physical function.

Physical therapists can address proper posture and body mechanics to help patients participate in common daily activities, relieve pain and improve function. When it comes to keeping bones healthy and reducing risk, for example, PTs can design an effective exercise program and suggest healthy habits for the patient to adhere to.

And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an injury or other painful ailment to schedule time with a physical therapist. In fact, the therapy professionals encourage you to consider visiting a PT as often as you schedule regular checkups with your dentist, primary care physician or dermatologist.


Article obtained from the American Physical Therapist Association Private Practice Section

January 9th, 2019

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