What PTs Tell Their Friends and Family

You should be doing this exercise every day

As people age, their muscles get weaker and often one of the first things that become a struggle is getting out of a chair. How often have you seen someone lean forward and use their arms to pull themselves up or ask for help to get up? Strengthening your muscles your hip and thigh muscles now will prevent that. Do 10 modified chair squats each day. Stand with your back facing a chair and your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat, hinging from your hips, until your butt taps the seat, then return to standing. You’ll be glad you made the effort now when years from now you are the first person up from the table after dinner.

You can get PT for “down there”

Do you have to cross your legs when you sneeze? Urinary incontinence isn’t a joke, nor is it something you have to live with. There are PTs who specialize in women’s health and they can help you strengthen your pelvic floor to prevent “leaking”.

You should not exercise “through the pain”

You may think you are being “tough” or “strong” by exercising through pain, but pain is your body’s way of telling you there is something wrong. If you exercise through the pain, you may end up with a serious injury that will keep you sidelined for a long time or possibly even permanently. If you slow down, rest, and make corrections to avoid the pain, you are likely to build back up to your previous level quicker or even surpass it.

That pain won’t get better on its own

As you age, you can hurt yourself doing anything, including getting out of bed awkwardly. We all hope that the pain will “magically” go away and sometimes it does. Normally the pain goes away because we compensate for the pain by not allowing our bodies to move in the way that would hurt. For instance, if you injure your knee, you may shift your weight to the other leg and then end up with hip pain. If you find yourself in pain for a week or more, see a physical therapist and address the problem quickly before it becomes more serious.

Flip-flops are not your friend

Sure, flip-flops can be comfortable but they are not meant to be wrong all the time. They offer no arch support and they require your leg, toe and foot muscles to work harder to keep them on which can lead to tight tendons and then pain in your lower back.  If you are going to do a lot of walking, don’t wear flip-flops. Foot and leg stretches can help counter any tightening. The runner’s lunge is a good stretch. Stand with your hands against a wall and your feet about 12 inches from it. Step back with your right foot then bend your left knee, keeping your back leg straight and your heel firmly on the ground. Hold for 20 seconds and report on the other side. In general though, minimize the use of flip-flops if you can’t cut them out altogether.

Encourage your kids to try lots of sports

Times have changed for kids and sports. In the past, kids would play many different sports and then choose one or two  sports to specialize in when they were in high school. These days, kids are being pushed by parents and coaches to specialize in one sport starting at a young age. The problem with limiting sports is that this often leads to stress injuries as well as muscle imbalances. For example, a child that only plays soccer will have strong legs and a weak core. Varied sports as well as free play (climbing trees, playing on the playground, etc.) are great ways to improve motor skills and build strength all over.

Take it easy during your period

There are a number of things that happen during menstruation that can cause ligaments and joints to loosen. Hormones are also fluctuating and it’s common to carry excess fluid. It is a good idea to lay-off high intensity workouts (boot camp, crossfit, etc) during your period and shift focus to low-impact workouts (biking or swimming).

Sometimes it really is mind over matter

There’s a strong connection between stress and pain. Being in pain can make you more anxious and this stress causes your muscles to tense up, leading to…more pain. Finding outlets for your stress (class at the gym, yoga, walks with your dog) are important to overall health.

Not moving can lead to pain too

We all know that sitting for hours at a time can contribute to back and neck pain, but it also shortens your hip flexors (the muscles that help you lift your knees and move your legs), causing them to tighten. Then when you do get up, you may cause a strain. If you have a sedentary lifestyle or have an office job, change your position at least once every 30 minutes. You can even set a reminder on your phone if you need to.