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Should I stretch before exercise?

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Growing up in youth sports, and even into Division I athletics, I remember starting every wrestling practice with static stretching- touch your toes and “1,2, 3,….10”. 

Turns out, I was doing it all wrong.

Now working in the physical therapy field in an active community like Crown Point, I often get asked: “Should you stretch before exercise?”  For the average person, the answer is no. 

Research has shown that static stretching before exercise: 

  1. Does not reduce risk of injury,
  2. Actually decreases muscular strength output, and
  3. Does not reduce post-injury soreness. 

A better way to warm up is to do something called a dynamic warm-up. 

A dynamic warm-up involves combining a light cardiovascular activity with gentle movements.  A light cardiovascular activity such as a brisk walk or light jog for 5-15 minutes helps get your blood flowing to your muscles. Combine this with low-intensity, gentle movements for the activity you are going to be doing.

For example, if you are golfing, take a couple gentle swings and start off in only one half your range and then slowly get to a full swing. If you are going to be lifting weights, do 3-5 repetitions at very light weight. 

Don’t get the wrong impression that stretching is bad.  In fact, it is a great way to cool down.  And some sports DO require flexibility. If you are a dancer that needs to complete the splits, then you need to be able to get into that position. 

Ideally, perform stretching after a workout when your muscles are the warmest.  For the average person, however, our bodies move in the range that we need. 

Any questions about stretching or other activities? Send an email to Doctor of Physical Therapy and 2x Olympic Wrestler Matt Gentry at mattg.physio@gmail.com


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About the Author: 

Matt Gentry, DPT

Sports Performance, Ortho and Pediatrics

Matt grew up in Oregon and attended StanfordUniversity on a wrestling scholarship, where he received a degree in human biology. After graduation, Matt coached Division I wrestling at his alma mater while also competing internationally on the Canadian national team which culminated in representing Canada at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. After retiring from competition following a fifth place finish in the London Olympics, he and and his wife relocated to the Midwest where he received his doctoral degree in physical therapy from Governor State University. Dr. Matt has an interest in serving clients with sports performance needs, orthopedic conditions, and pediatric clients with neurological conditions. He now resides in Manteno Illinois with his wife and three small children. 

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Feminine and fierce: why women should be hitting the weight room!

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Muscular does not equal masculinity

A common thing I hear at the gym is that women do not want to lift weights because it will “make them bulky”. In our society particularly, women are expected to look and behave that align with certain standards. Unfortunately, the “lifting weights makes you manly” idea seems to be a concept that has been around for a while (and in my opinion needs to be erased). Advertisements and media promote women to “look good” rather than promoting positive self image, feeling good, and being strong & healthy.

Not only does weight lifting and exercising improve lean body composition, but it also promotes a larger calorie burn throughout the day.

Powerful chemicals called endorphins are also released while you exercise which can help combat depression, PMS, or even just make you feel better on a gloomy day.

Resistance training and weight lifting is important for women to improve bone density.

Unfortunately, women have a higher predisposition to osteoporosis as we age due to our chemical and hormonal make up. Adding regular weight lifting and strength training into your exercise regimen can help strengthen your skeleton and reduce your risks for fractures.

What weightlifting did to my own self image

Even from a young age, I never met society’s standard of skinny. As I entered my teens, I thought that doing a ton of cardio and eating chicken and green beans every meal was my ticket to finally being “in shape”. For years I tried many very restrictive diets with high emphasis on long cardio sessions which eventually caused a metabolic nightmare every time I even looked in the direction of a carbohydrate. 

In my twenties, I started seriously lifting in the gym.

I noticed my arms and legs looked better even when the scale didn’t change much. I had more energy throughout the day. I looked forward to exercise and I felt strong, confident, and powerful doing it. Growing up I never thought I was “athletic” because I did not play competitive sports.

Now, I am confident enough to try new things such as yoga, rock climbing, rollerblading, and I even competed in a figure competition. Weightlifting has helped me break down personal limitations-both mental and physical- and made me a better, well-rounded, more self-assured woman.


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About the Author: 

Alli Riddering, DPT

Women's Health, Orthopedics and Pediatrics

Alli received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Governors State University and was nominated by the faculty for the Alpha Eta Honor Society (Allied Health Professionals). 

Alli first became interested in physical therapy in grade school after she witnessed her aunt graduating and becoming a PT. She honed a deeper understanding of the human body and a passion for the profession while earning a degree in biology from Purdue University.  

She has a keen interest in understanding the full nature of her patients’ injuries, then utilizing proven therapies that lead to recovery and improved function for them. Alli has a special interest in Women's Health and pelvic rehabilitation. 

She also enjoys participating in fitness and nutrition programs herself and she spends significant time each week working out.  She also loves to travel, dining out at new places, and experiencing the outdoors (especially when the weather is nice).

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5 Tips for Keeping Your Pelvic Floor Healthy

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When you think about being healthy you may think about lifting weights or running on a treadmill at a gym.  Oftentimes, we forget about important small muscles that support our internal organs and keep our bodily functions working properly. Did you know that a physical therapist can help you with bowel and bladder dysfunction such as urinary incontinence? Here are 5 tips on keeping your pelvic floor healthy!

1.    Proper nutrition and hydration

a.      Drinking water may seem daunting, especially if you are experiencing urinary leakage or if you already take frequent trips to the bathroom. In reality, drinking less water will cause the bladder to shrink which will tell the brain that it is fuller faster. In turn, this will cause you to go to the bathroom more frequently especially if urine is concentrated.  6-8 8oz glasses is recommended for a healthy lifestyle.

b.     Alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners and carbonated beverages should be avoided if possible because they can irritate the lining of the bladder and stimulate the nervous system which can also increase urinary emptying.

c.      Eating a diet with lean protein, fruits, and vegetables will help promote a healthy body weight which can decrease incidence of incontinence.

2.    Regular exercise

a.      A good start to an exercise program would be walking. Not only is walking a good introductory exercise regimen for overall health, but it actually activates the internal smooth muscles of the bowel and bladder and helps to strengthen the pelvic floor.  

3.    Create healthy bladder habits

a.      A great general guideline on healthy toileting habits for the pelvic floor would be to toilet every 3-4 hours. Urine stream flow should be ~10-20 seconds and urine should be slight yellow.

b.     Urine should not be highly concentrated or have a strong odor.

4.    Proper hygiene and clothing choices

a.      Some suggestions about clothing choices when experiencing urinary incontinence include pants that are lightweight, can be easily cleaned, and can be removed easily to avoid leakage. Bringing extra change of lightweight clothes with you if you experience incontinence is suggested to promote proper hygiene.

5.    Get in contact with a physical therapist!

a.      If you are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, contact a physical therapist that specializes on treating incontinence and pelvic pain. She/he can give you more detailed suggestions and specialized exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to reduce incidence of bladder leaks. 

Source : Hulme JA. Beyond Kegels, Fabulous Four Exercises and More - To Prevent and Treat Incontinence. Phoenix Pub; 2002.


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About the Author: 

Alli Riddering, DPT

Women's Health, Orthopedics and Pediatrics

Alli received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Governors State University and was nominated by the faculty for the Alpha Eta Honor Society (Allied Health Professionals). 

Alli first became interested in physical therapy in grade school after she witnessed her aunt graduating and becoming a PT. She honed a deeper understanding of the human body and a passion for the profession while earning a degree in biology from Purdue University.  

She has a keen interest in understanding the full nature of her patients’ injuries, then utilizing proven therapies that lead to recovery and improved function for them. Alli has a special interest in Women's Health and pelvic rehabilitation. 

She also enjoys participating in fitness and nutrition programs herself and she spends significant time each week working out.  She also loves to travel, dining out at new places, and experiencing the outdoors (especially when the weather is nice).

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Mindset Training for Sports Performance

What is the sports performance program currently being introduced at PhysioPoint Therapy in Crown Point with 2x Olympic Wrestler and Doctor of Physical Therapy Matt Gentry?

Sports Performance is a broad category and this program is a combination of both mental and physical aspects of sports performance. 

Olympian/Dr. Matt has a unique perspective, combining the mental performance skills he gained while competing in two Olympic Games along with movement science learned while earning a doctor of physical therapy degree.  Matt had this to say about the program:

“When polled, many athletes state that sports is 80% mental and this becomes more true the higher the competition level. Yet practice times are precious and physical skills and training takes precedence over mental skills. This results in athletes that do not have strong minds who are not able to maximize their physical capabilities. Many athletes have a basic understanding of goal-setting, visualization, and other mental skills. However, just like knowing how to lift weights doesn’t make you stronger, knowing about mental skills doesn’t give you a strong mind- which takes consistent, focused practice.  This program bridges the gap between mind and body with formal training that combines both the physical and mental aspect of sport in order to maximize performance. Like a muscle the brain is incredibly adaptive and grows with consistent focused effort.”

Drawing upon practical experience wrestling in 2 Olympics, formal Sport Psychology training, coursework during his education at prestigious Stanford University, and 5 years spent coaching Division 1 athletics, Dr. Matt will share his passion for mindset including:

·      Handling Pressure

·      Building Belief and Confidence

·      Increasing Sustained Focus and Endurance

·      Changing to a Growth (vs. Fixed) Mindset and the Importance of Failure

·      Overcoming Adversity and/or Injury

·      Visualization, Goal Setting, Deep Breathing, Self-Discipline, College recruiting process and more!


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About the Author: 

Matt Gentry, DPT

Sports Performance, Ortho and Pediatrics

Matt grew up in Oregon and attended StanfordUniversity on a wrestling scholarship, where he received a degree in human biology. After graduation, Matt coached Division I wrestling at his alma mater while also competing internationally on the Canadian national team which culminated in representing Canada at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. After retiring from competition following a fifth place finish in the London Olympics, he and and his wife relocated to the Midwest where he received his doctoral degree in physical therapy from Governor State University. Dr. Matt has an interest in serving clients with sports performance needs, orthopedic conditions, and pediatric clients with neurological conditions. He now resides in Manteno Illinois with his wife and three small children. 

 

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The “P”s of Pelvic Floor PT: Bet you didn’t know a physical therapist helped with these problems!

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1. Pelvic Muscle retraining:

Physical therapists are known to treat issues related to bone, muscle, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Did you know that the pelvic floor consists of these same tissues? Just like a muscle in, lets say, your hip or arm can become weak if you do not exercise it, your pelvic floor muscles can become weak too! 

2. Pee Management (Urinary Incontinence):

Ok, that was a reach….but urinary incontinence is one of the top issues that a pelvic floor physical therapist can help with. As mentioned above, the pelvic floor muscles play an important role in allowing you to  go to the bathroom.

This can mean the muscles allow you to “hold it” when going to the bathroom is not appropriate. The muscles also allow you to relax enough to empty your bladder fully when it is the right time. If your pelvic floor is too tight or too weak, urinary incontinence may result.

It has been found that 25% of young women, 44-57% of middle-aged and post menopausal women, and 75% of older women experience urinary incontinence at some point- YOU ARE NOT ALONE! (Urinary Incontinence New Hope, 2012) 

3. Pelvic Organ Prolapse:

The pelvic floor plays an important role in lifting the internal organs and keeping them in place, especially during daily activities. If the pelvic floor and core muscles are is damaged or weak (childbirth, aging) pelvic organ prolapse may occur.

Your pelvic floor physical therapist may have some great suggestions of little things that can be done throughout the day to help with this issue. 

4. Pelvic Pain:

Many people experience pelvic pain and suffer in silence because they just do not know who to talk to about these issues. Pain with sex is not normal and needs to be investigated by someone who has been trained to treat the pelvic floor muscles. Just like if you were to have a tight hamstring, the pelvic floor muscles can become overly tight and this becomes dysfunctional if it causes pain and interferes with daily life.

Luckily, your pelvic floor physical therapist has many ideas for treatment and knows how to target this specific muscle group!

If you have any specific questions,  please give me a call! 

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About the Author: 

Dr. Alli Riddering

Women's Health, Orthopedics and Pediatrics

Alli received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Governors State University and was nominated by the faculty for the Alpha Eta Honor Society (Allied Health Professionals). 

Alli first became interested in physical therapy in grade school after she witnessed her aunt graduating and becoming a PT. She honed a deeper understanding of the human body and a passion for the profession while earning a degree in biology from Purdue University.  

She has a keen interest in understanding the full nature of her patients’ injuries, then utilizing proven therapies that lead to recovery and improved function for them. Alli has a special interest in Women's Health and pelvic rehabilitation. 

She also enjoys participating in fitness and nutrition programs herself and she spends significant time each week working out.  She also loves to travel, dining out at new places, and experiencing the outdoors (especially when the weather is nice).

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How to be Great Part 2 - Stephan Curry

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 As I mentioned in a recent blog post, How to be Great Part 1 - Kobe Bryant, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC for a conference that has left me excited and eager to apply what I have learned.

I learned from the thought leaders in the areas of health and wellness and experts in physiotherapy.

Alan Stein was one of the speakers that had a profound impact on me. As a young boy, I was enamored with the NBA and Michael Jordan. My interests have changed over the years and watching sports, in general, is not where I choose to spend my time. I do, however, appreciate learning about how people become great.

When Alan spoke about Stephan Curry there were similarities between what makes him great and what made Kobe Bryant great.

Tenacity is not enough, it is all about the preparation.

Stephan would do drills over and over again until he got them right. If he messed up, he would take him self out of the line and work with a coach to help him get the fundamentals right. He was terrified of repeating the wrong execution of a move or shot. Doing it once is one thing, but he wanted to break himself of deficiencies as quickly as possible because he was afraid of the long-term consequence of poor muscle memory.

In therapy, we use a method from the 1970s called Medical Exercise Therapy. It focuses on precision and proper movement over and over again. While this is great for treating conditions like knee, shoulder, back and neck pain. It doesn’t by itself train coordination and higher-level skill.

In order to train performance and coordination of movement, we incorporate Redcord neurologic activation exercises in combination with trigger point dry needing in order to get the neuro-muscular system to activate optimally.

Alan also told us about a vow Stephan made to himself. Namely, Stephane doesn’t leave the gym without “swishing” 5 free throws. For those of you who know about basketball, you score regardless of whether or not you hit the rim provided the ball goes through the hole. But that wasn’t good enough for Stephan. He pushed himself to going above and beyond what is necessary, so that when he was in a game situation there would be room for error.

He will go down as the best shooter in NBA history one day thanks to his dedication to doing things properly and going above and beyond average.

What made Stephan Curry Great?

1.     He was afraid of what repeating a bad habit would do.

2.     He wouldn’t leave the gym until he “swished” 5 free throws

This means he wanted to go above and beyond acceptable, he was seeking “perfection”

Take away for those of us not in the NBA:  

First, we have to analyze what habits we do in our personal and professional lives that we are repeating and needs to stop. We need to be “afraid” of the long-term consequence of performing in a way that is less than our best. 

Second, in preparation, we need to set our sights on performing in a way that is far above what is expected of everybody else. We need to be better than average by doing the hard work on the front end sot that we can do our absolute best when it’s necessary.

Enjoy Life,

Dr. Nate Kloosterman

PhysioPoint Therapy and Wellness

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About the Author: 

Dr. Nate Kloosterman earned his doctorate in Physical Therapy from Andrews University. He is a board certified Physical Therapist with the advanced designation of orthopedic clinical specialist (OCS). He has extensive post-graduate training in manual therapy including a trigger point dry needling certification.

Nate has been involved in teaching at Andrews University for the differential diagnosis in the doctor of physical therapy program. He was instrumental in developing curriculum for advanced courses in medical exercise therapy (MET) which is taught to practitioners throughout the United States.

Nate founded PhysioPoint Therapy and Wellness in January of 2014. He enjoys spending time with family, biking, skiing, playing golf and participating in community events. 

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How to be Great Part 1 - Kobe Bryant

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While I was away on a conference I ran across Alan Stein who is a strength & conditioning and mindset coach for the NBA’s top athletes.  He spoke on the topic of greatness and how we can be the best at what we choose to do. 

Alan and I share something in common. We study successful people to see what makes them tick. While I know that I will never play in the NBA, I was able to glean some ideas about what it takes to be great at what I choose to do in life.

I want to be a great father, son, husband and the best at delivering healing and wellness through exercise and hands-on treatments.

This is why I learned from the best mentors in the world for hands-on therapy, the best at trigger point dry needling, the best at sports performance and the best at corrective exercise.

Kobe Bryant dominated the league in the mid 2000s.

He was able to reach a higher level of greatness because he enjoyed the basics and prepared better than his fellow athletes.

Alan told the story about meeting Kobe to observe a workout early in the morning. Kobe apparently scheduled his workouts at 4am.  Alan wanted to get there before Kobe to impress him so he decided to show up at 3:30am only to hear the bouncing of the basketball and squeaking of sneakers. He was in a full sweat and had been doing his own training long before his grueling 2 hour “formal” training session.

The session, according to Alan, was extremely boring. He did basic drills you would see most junior high basketballers doing. Alan asked Kobe why on earth the best basketball player on the planet would be repeating the basics over and over.

Kobe’s answer was something like, “Now you know why I’m the best basketball player on the planet”

 What made Kobe Bryant great?

1.     He was the first one to the gym. (Preparation)

2.     He didn’t skip the basics (He enjoyed them)

Take away for those of us not in the NBA:

First, we need to prepare. We need to look at what our colleagues and competitors are doing and “Out-Prepare” them. Whether this means going into work before everyone else, being the first to accept a challenge, or spending time in continuing education.

Second, not only did he repeat the basics, he enjoyed them. When you can do the fundamentals well you can be a great parent, spouse or be the best at what you choose to do for work or pleasure. Don’t forget the basics and where you come from.

Enjoy Life,

Dr. Nate Kloosterman

PhysioPoint Therapy

 

 

 

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About the Author: 

Dr. Nate Kloosterman earned his doctorate in Physical Therapy from Andrews University. He is a board certified Physical Therapist with the advanced designation of orthopedic clinical specialist (OCS). He has extensive post-graduate training in manual therapy including a trigger point dry needling certification.

Nate has been involved in teaching at Andrews University for the differential diagnosis in the doctor of physical therapy program. He was instrumental in developing curriculum for advanced courses in medical exercise therapy (MET) which is taught to practitioners throughout the United States.

Nate founded PhysioPoint Therapy and Wellness in January of 2014. He enjoys spending time with family, biking, skiing, playing golf and participating in community events. 

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What is Muscle Memory?

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As an Olympic athlete, my coaches used to talk a lot about ‘building muscle memory’. 

Now as a doctor of physical therapy at PhysioPoint Therapy in Crown Point, many patients of all ages ask me about similar concepts in order to improve or return to high school sports, golfing or other hobbies.  The term muscle memory is kind of a misnomer- after all there isn’t a mini brain inside every muscle! 

So what does muscle memory really mean?

Muscle memory relates to coordinating movement.  For example, asking your body to swing a golf club requires the muscles throughout your body to contract in a coordinated fashion.  How does this happen?  Your muscles contract due to your brain and nervous system telling them to. 

For complex movements, that requires your brain to get the exact sequence and strength of contraction for a large numbers of muscles.  Even a little bit off and you end up with a slice.

Basically, muscle memory is the brain and nervous system’s ability to fire muscles better.

The more you do a particular motion, the better your brain gets at communicating with the muscles.  This process of building muscle memory is called neuroplasticity- the brain actually changes! 

Just think of when you learn a new skill.  At first it takes time and a lot of conscious thought and the movements might seem jerky or uncoordinated. Your brain is receiving feedback from all those movements and fine-tuning the motion.  As you do the movement more, it takes less thought and you can do the movement faster and smoother. 

Besides just sports, this concept of muscle memory relates to physical therapy in a number of ways. 

For example, if you have a painful shoulder every time you lift your arm overhead your body might compensate to avoid pain by doing a shoulder shrug.  The body is very good at figuring out ways to move in a pain free manner. If you do this long enough, it becomes a habit even though it is a dysfunctional movement that eventually leads to other problems. 

Many people have heard that ‘practice makes perfect’ but my Olympic coaches used to preach “Perfect practice makes perfect”. 

This is because the brain doesn’t care what the movement is, it will help build muscle memory for that movement.  A golf swing has a huge variability in movement patterns, and you can actually reinforce bad muscle memory.  If you can go to the driving range, and slice it every time, you are building muscle memory for that particular (bad) movement.  Luckily, the fact that the brain can change in one direction means that it can also change in the other. 

Hopefully being intentional about your movements will help you in your sport or hobby.  If you have any other questions, contact Doctor of Physical Therapy and 2x Olympic Wrestler Matt Gentry at mattg.physio@gmail.com

 

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About the Author: 

Dr. Matt Gentry grew up in Oregon and attended StanfordUniversity on a wrestling scholarship, where he received a degree in human biology.

After graduation, Matt coached Division I wrestling at his alma mater while also competing internationally on the Canadian national team which culminated in representing Canada at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

After retiring from competition following a fifth place finish in the London Olympics, he and and his wife relocated to the Midwest where he received his doctoral degree in physical therapy from Governor State University.

Dr. Matt has an interest in serving clients with sports performance needs, orthopedic conditions, and pediatric clients with neurological conditions. He now resides in Manteno Illinois with his wife and three small children. 

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How to Improve Your Golf Handicap (….. with NEEDLES!?!?!)

If you enjoy golf or would like to return to the sport, consider dry needling as an option to get you moving better and feeling better! I believe that the combination of moving with more range of motion coupled with using that new range of motion in a coordinated way is what restores painful joints, muscles and nerves.

 

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