PTC Blog

Physical Therapist

Education Institutions: Doctor of Physical Therapy, Concordia University St. Paul (2021); Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Madison (2015)

Professional Organization Memberships: American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Minnesota Chapter

Specializations: LSVT BIG certified for treatment of individuals with Parkinson Disease

Professional Interest Area/Treating Philosophy: I enjoy treating individuals with a wide variety of orthopedic conditions and neurological disorders. I value treating the whole person and helping people reach their functional goals to get back to what they enjoy doing.

Other: I spend most of my time with my husband and our cat! We enjoy hiking, golfing, traveling, spending time with friends and family exploring new places in the Twin Cities.

July 14th, 2021

Posted In: General

1. Warm up and move before you garden
Many people don’t realize, but gardening is a strenuous activity on the muscles and joints of the human body. Just as you would warm up prior to a sporting activity, workout, or run, you should take the time to ready your body for common gardening tasks of digging, planting, weeding, mulching and raking. One option is to start with a simple 5-10 minute walk to get your heart rate up. You could also get your body moving with some light stretching; roll your shoulders back in a circular motion and slowly move your head from side to side, bending forward at the trunk, back, and rotate side to side, and reach overhead with both arms and elongate your trunk side to side. Just move. Trust me, you will thank me later.

2. Listen to your body and take breaks
Be mindful of how your body feels and what it is telling you. If you start to feel an aching back or neck slow down, stretch, or stop what you are doing and switch to a different task or activity. I know it seems simple, but a lot of people just ignore it until soreness and aches turn into lingering pain. Your body adapts to specific stresses placed upon it. If you largely have been inactive over the winter months and you go out and start gardening your muscles and joints are not primed or ready for the specific movements and stresses that gardening entails. Even if you are feeling good, taking a break every 20-30 minutes is a good practice to help muscles and tissue relax and will minimize soreness later.

3. Change positions frequently
By changing positions frequently it will help prevent soreness and pain in muscles, joints, and tissues that are not used to the specific positions, movements, and lifts that are required with gardening. For example, if you’ve been leaning forward gardening for more than a few minutes and your back starts to ache, stand up slowly and gently lean backwards a few times to relax the tissue. Changing your position in the opposite direction will alleviate stressed tissues.

4. Save your knees
If you must kneel, use knee pads, a gardening pad or pillow to absorb some of the pressure. If kneeling on both knees causes pain in your back, try kneeling on one knee and keep one foot on the ground, which will provide more stability to your back.

5. Use proper body mechanics
There are many different positions used in gardening including lifting, squatting, carrying and pulling. Proper body mechanics is when you put your body in effective positions that are strong and safe to avoid injury and pain. First, when picking something up or pulling on a weed, you should practice bending at the knees, not the hips. You also want to minimize twisting at the back when moving heavy loads side to side such as when shoveling. Instead use your feet to move around to turn your body as one unit. Furthermore, pushing is always preferred over pulling, as we are more capable of safely generating more force with pushing. Lastly, get close to your yard work to avoid over stretching and placing additional stress on your body.

6. Use proper tools to assist you
Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move heavier objects. This isn’t a competition. There is no need to show off how strong you are. If you have knee or hip pain try sitting on a bucket and adding a seat cushion will provide hours of comfort while gardening. If possible, elevate your flower beds and containers to a comfortable height. Also, maintain your gardening tools and equipment. Nothing fancy here, but getting some lighter tools that are longer handled and cushioned will keep your hands happy.

7. Keep moving after you garden
I know, more movement. There’s a reason I keep bringing it up. A body in motion stays in motion. Ending your gardening session with some light stretching and movement will help minimize aches and pains and help facilitate healing of stressed tissue. Go on a short walk or perform the same stretches you did prior to your gardening session.

If any of your aches and pains isn’t managed with these tips and they continue to linger, a physical therapist can help. Call us at 1-888-THERAPY and we will take a closer look.

Dr. Josa J. Martin, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy
Ramsey Physical Therapy



Back, Blog. PT & Me. Your Guide to Physical Therapy, 13 March 2019,

Young, Tony. innovation Physical Therapy. 7 Tips for Pain-Free Gardening, 15 June 2015,

Avruskin, Andrea. ChoosePT, Provided by APTA. 7 Tips to Avoid Aches and Pains While Gardening,

May 27th, 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all in many different aspects of life.  Healthcare workers are the heroes that will help us safely navigate through this time.  Many companies are supporting healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many brands have decided to give back directly to those on the frontline with special discounts. If you are a medical professional or first responder, you can find savings on products that might make your life a little easier. The majority of discounts are on shoes and athletic appearal, due to healthcare providers being on their feet all day and requiring comfortable clothing. Below are just some of the many companies offering discounts for healthcare providers.

  • Adidas: Medical professionals, first responders, and members of the military get 40% off their purchases
  • Asics: Medical professionals and first responders get 60% off any full priced product
  • Crocs: You can sign up to get a free pair of crocs with free shipping
  • Nike: First responders and medical professionals (including technicians and researchers) get 20% off
  • The North Face: Healthcare workers get 50% off nonsale items, both online and instore through December 31
  • Reebok: First responders, teachers, nurses and military get 50% off their purchases
  • Under Armour: First responders, healthcare providers and educators get 40% off all purchases
  • Vineyard Vines: Medical workers get 50% off
  • Yeti: Offering 30% off to all military, first responders, and nurses

May 13th, 2020

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With gyms closed and a lot more people working from home in these crazy times, we have to think about moving a lot more than we did a few weeks ago. Dining room tables and spare bedrooms have become offices and classrooms. Instead of the nice office chair at work, you might be sitting on your couch or a bar stool.

Here are 5 easy exercises you can complete at your “desk” (what ever that might be for the time being) to help decrease those aches and pains.

1. Seated Bow and arrow: Sitting with tall posture bring both arms straight out in front of you palms together. Bring one arm out to the side like you are opening a book. Have your head and eyes follow your hand. Complete 10 reps on each side.

2. Upper trap stretch: Sitting with tall posture. Gently bring your ear to your shoulder, keeping your nose pointed straight forward, until a gentle stretch is felt. Don’t let your shoulders raise up. Hold for 30 seconds and complete 2 on each side.

3. Scapular retraction: Sitting with tall posture. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back. Don’t let your shoulders raise up toward your ears. Hold for 5 seconds and complete 10 reps.

4. Chin tucks: Sitting with tall posture. Gently pull your head back and slightly down like you are creating a double chin. Hold for 3 seconds and complete 10 reps.

5. Levator Stretch: Sitting with tall posture Gently turn your head down like you are looking into your armpit, until a gentle stretch is felt. Hold for 30 seconds. Complete 2 reps on each side.

Try these exercises throughout your work day to get you moving. If your aches and pains continue give us a call at 1-888-THERAPY and we will take a closer look.

Dr. Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy

April 29th, 2020

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We all know the crazy state of the nation right now. There is a lot of uncertainty, panic, worry and fear circulating in our society. Individually, we are all taking steps to keep ourselves and others healthy physically, flatten the curve and resume some kind of new normal eventually. My question is… Are we taking care of ourselves mentally? Some of us have found extra time on our hands and are looking for things to keep us busy, happy and healthy. Some of us are still working but may have added stress and need a way to cope. There is a practice that can reduce stress, increase happiness, alleviate fear/worry and allow you to live comfortably in the moment. It is Meditation.

You’ve heard of meditation before. Sit still, don’t think, just be and everything will be hunky-dory. In essence, that is all it is. Ultimately, it is so much more than that. Meditation can change your current state to be more relaxed and calm in that very moment. With practice, it can also help you change your baseline so you can function in the world as a calm, assertive and collected human.

How does sitting still and doing nothing accomplish mental clarity?

How do you just sit still and do nothing?

External information floods our brains and yields internal struggles and distractions. Our attention is driven by this information. Meditation is an exercise for the mind. Concentration is our mental muscle that can be strengthened by realizing we can choose what we pay attention to. During meditation, we choose to pay attention to a calm and relaxed state. We can begin to change our internal circumstances to drown outside distractions and become more present in the here and now with practice.

Sounds daunting? It isn’t! Meditation is not rigid with rules and specifics. It is extremely simple and only as hard as you make it. Meditation is really the idea of sitting, doing nothing, and being ok with that.

Set 5-10 minutes aside during your day and try this…

1.)Find a comfortable place you can sit. It does not matter if you are in a chair or on the ground as long as you are comfortable. You can even lie down if you want but this tends to make people very relaxed. You are not meditating if you are asleep.

2.)Your eyes can be closed or open if you prefer, just let them relax on the ground in front of you.

3.) Breathe. Breathing deeply starts to bring you into relaxation. Inhale to lengthen your spine and exhale to release tension. With every exhale, soften your body. Relax your jaw and shoulders.

4.) It is helpful to find something to concentrate on to keep you in the moment. Jeff Warren calls it “home base”. Some things to pay attention to…
Breathing: How the inhale feels in your nose or throat
Sound: Hum of the fridge
Feeling: Warmness of your hands
Spot on the body: The point between your eyes, back of your heart, or your belly.

5.) Your mind will wander and this is perfectly fine. Let the thoughts come but then try to come back to your breathing, sound or feeling you are concentrating on. Don’t be upset if you cannot “quiet your mind”. Just be ok with starting over again without frustration.
The more you are able to come back to “home base”, the stronger your concentration muscle gets. This will help us come back from the outside distractions in the world and meditation will come full circle.

Extra Tips

  •  Consider guided mediation through an app. “Calm” or “Headspace” are two great resources and have 30 day introductions to help you learn more and practice appropriately
  • Start with 5-10 minutes and build up from there. Meditation is a practice. It gets easier as you go.
  • Mornings are a great time to practice to set the mood for the day but use whatever time you have
  • Stay consistent and do not beat yourself up about being perfect. It is not about perfection. Just show up and try. Even if you are unable to harness your concentration that day, do not give up. Try again tomorrow

Happy Meditation! Be good to yourself and others!

Andover Physical Therapy

April 15th, 2020

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During this time of uncertainty, it is normal to feel sad, confused, scared or angry. Frankly this whole thing about COVID-19 stresses me out and it affects everyone in some form! The things that keep running through my head daily are: I need to keep working to provide for my family but going to work, what if I bring the virus home? Am I showing my kids too much stress and stressing them out? Am I going to be able to keep them on track with their distance learning? Are my friends and family going to be safe? Just to name a few! We are all going to deal with some form of stress during this time. Let’s be real, stress is never going to go away. These are a few things I am doing to help cope and keep my family moving a smooth as possible.

1) First and for most make sure you are doing your part by washing your hands and the new guidelines set in place by the state of Minnesota.

2) Take some time for yourself to either read or just breath!

Here are a few different breathing techniques, choose the one right for you!

Pursed lip breathing: inhale through your nose for 2 seconds and exhale through puckered or pursed lips for twice as long. This type of breathing technique helps move oxygen into the lungs and carbon dioxide out. This helps to decrease your breathing rate, as well as promote relaxation for the entire body. Repeat this technique 5-10 times.

Belly or Diaphragmatic breathing: Put one hand over your belly and the other hand over your chest. Take a deep breath so that your hand on your belly moves with the inhale to a count of 4. Slowly exhale and feel your hands move with the breath you take. Repeat this technique 5-10 times.

Square breathing: slowly exhale getting all the oxygen out of your lungs. Inhale slowly for a count of 4 and then hold your breath for a count of 4. Slowly exhale for a count of 4 and hold your breath for a count of 4. Repeat this cycle 5 to 10 times.

3) Continue to connect with people while still practicing social distancing. Talk on the phone, text, email or my new favorite Zoom. I was able to talk with 6 of my friends while each still in our home and see each other. These are the times I am so grateful for technology. There are a few different ways to visually chat with people. Zoom is one that my friends had so that is what I got, I’m not very technically savvy.

4) Keep ACTIVE!! There are many different exercise companies doing fitness workouts online. Some have a charge or a month trial for free. If you are a member of Facebook, check your local gym’s page, many instructors are doing live classes from home to keep us moving. With my children we pick a different sport to play each day while staying in the perimeters of our yard. Exercise is known to pump up endorphins, keep our mind healthy, regulate our mood and decrease overall stress!

Try these 5 exercises to get my heart rate up and use all the muscle groups. I have had my 8, 6 and 2 year old do these with me. It keeps are blood flowing and a smile on our face. Laughter is a great stress reliever too!


Standing jump down into a plank then jump legs in and return to standing. Modify if needed to: squat down, lunge one leg back then stand back up, alternate sides each time.


Mountain Climbers

Keeping in a plank position, alternate bringing knees to chest as if you were running. Modify to: standing high knees if wrist pain.


Jumping Jacks

Jump arms up over head and legs out at the same time then return to neutral. Modify to: one arm up and one leg out at a time, alternating.


Push Ups

Plank position, holding core tight, lower body to the floor then push through your arms. Modify to: keeping knees on the floor.



Hold a plank position in full elbow extension with your legs spread slightly apart as shown. Do not let your back arch down. Modify to: keeping knees on the floor.


Perform each exercise for 1 min with 30 seconds of rest in between. Try to work up towards repeating each exercise 3 times for a quick 15-20 min workout. If any of these exercises are too difficult modify as needed.

Remember we are all in this together and we will get through it! Stay safe!

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

April 1st, 2020

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National Athletic Training Month is held every March in order to spread awareness about the important work of athletic trainers. The 2020 slogan is “ATs Impact Health Care Through Action.”  Here are 20 facts about athletic trainers provided by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association:

1. Athletic Trainers are health care professionals.

2. The appropriate title is athletic trainer or AT, but not trainer.

3. There are more than 58,000 certified athletic trainers around the world.

4. Athletic Training education follows a medical model that includes clinical rotations. This is on par with what is required of students pursuing other degrees in health care, such as physical therapy or nursing.

5. Athletic Trainers must receive a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited program. Beginning in Fall 2022, a Master’s degree will be the minimum entry point into the profession.

6. Upon graduation, Athletic Trainers must pass the national examination to obtain certification plus acquire necessary state licensure to practice in most states.

7. Athletic Trainers are educated in five domains including injury and illness prevention and wellness promotion, examination, assessment and diagnosis, immediate and emergency care, therapeutic intervention, and health care administration and professional responsibility.

8. Athletic Trainers work in many different settings including youth sports, high schools, colleges and universities, physician practices (in a similar capacity to nurses, physician assistants and other professional clinical personnel), rural and urban hospitals, sports medicine clinics, occupational health, public safety, military branches and performing arts.

9. Athletic Trainers provide emergency care for injury and illnesses such as concussion, cardiac arrest, spine injuries, heat stroke, diabetes, allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

10. Athletic Trainers are able to reduce absenteeism from work, school and sport through injury prevention measures, onsite health care and robust referral network for specialized care.

11. Athletic Trainers help reduce costs associated with unnecessary emergency room visits and diagnostic tests as well as rehabilitative costs before and after surgery.

12. Employing an Athletic Trainer has the potential to reduce insurance costs based on the standard prevention protocols that the athletic trainer manages and provides.

13. In some states, Athletic Trainers can bill insurances and be reimbursed for their services.

14. Athletic Trainers use best practices to promote optimal patient care and employee well-being.

15. Athletic Trainers play an important role in educating coaches and players on sport specific rules and regulations.

16. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) encourages schools that provide an interscholastic sports program to create policies that enhance the well-being of their student athletes including the utilization of an athletic trainer as part of their health care team.

17. An American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) study found that the presence of Athletic Trainers can have a significant positive impact on student athlete health, resulting in lower injury rates, improved diagnosis and return-to-play decisions for injuries such as concussion, and fewer recurrent injuries.

18. According to the latest research in the Journal of Athletic Training, 34% of secondary schools have no access to an athletic trainer.

19. Schools with athletic trainers are better at identifying athletes with concussions.

20. Recurrent injury rates were six time higher in girls’ soccer and nearly three times higher in girls’ basketball in schools without athletic trainers.

March 17th, 2020

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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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Happy New Year! Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Millions of Americans make resolutions every January hoping to improve their health by losing weight, getting fit, or eating healthy. Make this the year you and your family lead a healthier lifestyle by following these 4 tips:

Tip #1: Be Physically Active Your Way: It is important to be physically active your way. Start by doing what you can and picking activities you like. To gain the most health benefits, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week and youth should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily. 

Tip #2: Rethink Your Drink.
Substitute water for sugary or alcoholic drinks to reduce calories and stay safe.

Tip #3: Get Enough Sleep. Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

Tip #4: Eat a Healthy Diet.  Make healthy food choices like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.

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

January 16th, 2020

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One of the principles of proper body mechanics as it relates to lifting and performing job tasks is power zones. The idea behind power zones is that they define the area around the body in which work is most safely performed. The further outside of these power zones that work is being done the greater the stress placed on the body and the more likely injuries are to occur.

There are 3 Power Zones:

Power Zone 1
Work should be done between shoulder and knee level.

Power Zone 2
Work should be done close to the body.

Power Zone 3
Work should be done in front of the body.

Whenever possible work that is being done should be evaluated to see if it meets safe (green) zones in each power zone. If work is found to be outside the safe zone (red) then modifications should be considered. These modifications can include setting up the work space differently to utilizing tools to accomplish job tasks. The principles of power zones can be applied to physically demanding jobs as well as office work and desk set up.

For more information on workplace ergonomics and to learn how Physical Therapy Consultants can help make your business safer, contact Dustin at

Dustin Eslinger, MA, LAT, ATC
Director of Athletic Training Services
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

January 8th, 2020

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