PTC Blog

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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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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It’s finally spring! According to the calendar, which living in Minnesota we know we can’t always rely on! But the warm sunshine and longer days mean we can emerge from our winter hibernation! That means we will be spending more time outside enjoying the warmer weather! Do you want to get outside and enjoy the weather but aren’t sure how?

Here are some tips to get outside and soak up the vitamin D!

Go for a Walk
Explore your neighborhood and say hello to your neighbors you haven’t seen since before Christmas! You might find a hidden gem you didn’t know was in your neighborhood!

Explore a State Park
There are over 60 state parks in MN! Check out one or many that sparks your interest here

Do Yard Work
Yard work is physically demanding, as it activates muscles throughout your entire body and you have the satisfaction of cleaning up the yard that has been hidden by snow for too long. Raking or shoveling the last of the remaining snow can burn up to 400 calories per hour. Make sure to stretch prior to completing yard work. Here’s a previous blog post from 2018 on great stretching tips prior to completing yard work

Play a Round of Golf
Golf is great workout, especially if you walk the course instead of using a cart. You get your steps and a full body body workout with swinging a club. Some courses can be expensive, but there are usually cheaper city owned/community courses that can introduce you to the sport.

Play a Round of Frisbee Golf
Frisbee golf requires less equipment than regular golf. Courses can be found at city parks and they are usually free. There are a few more elite courses that might have a small entrance fee, but most course are totally free. The only equipment required is a frisbee. These can be found at sporting good stores or even Walmart or Target for less than $10 a piece!

What is your favorite outdoor spring activity? Share in the comments below! As always if injuries occur during your favorite activity, or pain is preventing you from completing your favorite spring activity give us a call at 1-888-THERAPY to schedule your initial evaluation today!

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy

March 27th, 2019

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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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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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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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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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If you have a sudden need to urinate – and you involuntarily leak wherever and whenever – you may have urge incontinence. The condition isn’t a disease, but it may be a sign that there is an underlying problem.  While urge incontinence is sometimes referred to as “overactive bladder,” that condition is slightly different.  People with an overactive bladder feel an urge to urinate, but don’t necessarily leak urine.

Causes of Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence is caused by abnormal bladder contractions. Normally, strong muscles called sphincters control the flow of urine from the bladder. With urge incontinence, the muscles of an “overactive” bladder contract with enough force to overridethe sphincter muscles of the urethra, which is the tube that takes urine out of the body.

Treatments to Improve Pelvic-Floor Muscle Function
Your physical therapist will teach you how to “find” (sense the movement of) your pelvic-floor muscles by tensing and releasing them. The physical therapist will design an exercise program based on your condition to help you improve your pelvic-floor muscle function so you can better control your bladder

Your treatments may include:

  • Kegel exercises. The Kegel exercise is performed by squeezing the sphincter muscles or imagining that you are trying to stop the flow of urine.
  • Biofeedback. Depending on your symptoms and level of comfort, your physical therapist may gently employ electrodes to measure your pelvic-floor muscle activity. The biofeedback obtained can help make you more aware of the correct way to use your pelvic-floor muscles.
  • Muscle strengthening exercises. Your physical therapist will teach you specific exercises to stretch and strengthen other important muscles that help support proper bladder function.
  • Electrical stimulation. Your physical therapist may apply gentle electrical stimulation to help improve your awareness of your muscle function.

To learn more contact St. Francis Physical Therapy at 763-753-8804.  Have a Happy New Year!

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

December 27th, 2018

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Headaches. The word is so simple, but the causes can be nearly endless. Headaches can be caused from simple things such as lack of sleep, poor eating habits, dehydration, or stress. Migraines can be triggered by lights or sounds. Tension headaches can be caused by tight muscles through the neck and shoulders. In very rare instances a headache can be caused by more serious conditions. The difficult part is determining the type of headache and how to relieve the pain.

Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are pretty easy to treat. They are caused by tightness in neck muscles, including the upper trap, SCM, or scalenes. They can also be caused by tightness through the jaw muscles and muscles at the base of the skull. The leading cause of the tightness is stress and poor posture. Which leads to muscle imbalances. Through an individualized treatment program consisting of manual therapy, stretches, and strengthening exercises, tension headaches can be reduced with physical therapy.

Migraine Headaches
Migraine headaches are often one-sided, and cause intense pain with or without warning signs. Migraines can last for hours up to days. They may be caused by a trigger, such as lights or sounds, but also can happen with no trigger. Migraines can be treated in PT, but are often treated as a team approach. A team of MDs and PTs are the best treatment options to determine the cause and help prevent future episodes.

Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches are caused due to pressure in the sinuses due to fluid build up. They can be caused by allergies or acute infection. Pressure is often felt above and/or below the eyes. An Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist is usually the best person to treat sinus headaches.

One way to help medical professionals determine what type and the cause of headaches is to keep a headache log/diary. Record when the headache occurred, what you were doing prior, food and water intake. In the smart phone age there are many free apps that can also help track this information. One example is Migraine Buddy. It asks questions about possible triggers, duration, and frequency to help determine patterns. Overall, great ways to help prevent headaches is to stay hydrated, eat a balance diet, minimize stress, and stay active to maintain proper nutrition and overall health.

This is just a brief overview of a few types of headaches. There are many other types and causes. If you are interested in more information about headaches or are suffering from headaches of your own give us a call at 1-888-THERAPY for more information.

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy Consultants

December 12th, 2018

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Let’s get real mommas…The journey to becoming a parent does not end with labor and delivery. There are not only a lot of physical changes that your body goes through, but you are also learning what a whole new normal is for your life and new bundle of joy. As exciting as this journey can be, it can also be a rollercoaster of change. The physical changes our bodies experience after having a child also come with emotional changes, social changes, and relationship changes. Many times your friends, family members and even physicians will prepare you for the changes you will go through when it comes to taking care of your new baby, breast feeding and sleep deprivation, but rarely are you prepared for what to expect from your body after you have a baby.  This time period is referred to as “postpartum”. If you are talked to about your new postpartum body, the conversation usually leaves you feeling like you should expect these things to be your new normal.

What if I told you that the separation in your abdomen does not have to be your new normal?

What if I told you that the accidental peeing in your pants does not have to be your new normal?

What if I told you that the low back pain or tailbone pain you feel does not have to be your new normal?

What if I told you that you don’t have to manage all these things on your own?

A Physical Therapist is the golden ticket to your postpartum journey. A physical therapist can help you with the physical changes you experience after having a baby and get you on a great path to feeling better.

You may consider seeing a Physical Therapist after having a baby if you experience:

  • Pain in your low back, tail bone, pelvic floor and/or SI joint
  • Separation of your abdominal muscle also known as Diastasis Recti
  • Accidental leakage when exercising, jumping, coughing, or sneezing also known as Stress Incontinence
  • Shoulder or neck pain that comes from holding your child and treat feeding

Remember although many of these symptoms are common after having a baby, that does not mean they are normal, but the good news is you can get relief with the care you receive from your Physical Therapist. Be sure to start your postpartum journey on the right path by contacting your Physical Therapist. Schedule a free phone call consultation, or call 1-888-THERAPY to schedule your postpartum appointment today.

Jackie Giese, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

December 5th, 2018

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