PTC Blog

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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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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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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After the holidays is the time of year that many of us make the commitment to ramp up our activity level and begin a routine exercise program. We all know the benefits of regular exercise. Weight control, an increase in energy, and decrease risks of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, some forms of cancer, and falls are all positive benefits of regular exercise.

When beginning an exercise program it is important to take the appropriate steps to avoid potential setbacks. All too often mistakes are made that lead to overuse injuries that greatly affect a person’s motivation and/or ability to continue with their exercise program.

Following these steps will help you reduce your risk of overuse injuries:

1. Always consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise to address any potential issues that may affect your ability to exercise.

2. Do not do too much too soon. You need to understand where you currently are on the “physically active scale” when starting an exercise program. Increasing your activity level too fast can lead to your body breaking down.

3. Warm-up and stretch prior to your routine and cool-down and stretch after your routine. You need to get your body ready for exercise before performing the more physically demanding parts of your exercise routine.

4. Use proper form and use the proper footwear/gear. Whatever activity/exercise you are performing it is important to use proper form to avoid injury. Improper form during an exercise can cause undesired stress on different areas of your body that can eventually breakdown and cause injury. Also, many individuals take for granted having the proper equipment for the exercise they are performing. An example of this making sure you have running shoes that fit appropriately before beginning a walking or running program.

5. Have variation in your exercise program. Variations in your exercise routine will help you avoid overuse injuries and provide you with a more complete workout.

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

December 19th, 2018

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