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3 Critical Questions To Ask Your Physical Therapist on the First Visit

Physical therapy (both in person and virtual physical therapy) is most effective when you are actively involved. While the physical therapist is responsible for identifying issues and developing a plan, the patient should be actively involved by asking questions and providing necessary background information. Here are three important questions to ask your physical therapist to get the most out of your session in Chevy Chase or Bethesda.

1. Why did this happen, and how can we ensure it doesn’t happen again?

Solving the underlying issue and resolving any pain or discomfort is essential when working with a physical therapist. But beyond that, you also want to ensure that the problems don’t resurface. By asking about the root cause of the injury or pain, you’re able to better prevent the problem from becoming a long-term issue.

2. What do I need to be doing at home?

Unfortunately, time with a physical therapist is limited. Outside of a few hours a week, most time is spent away from your PT. When meeting with a physical therapist, it’s vital to clarify any exercises you should or shouldn’t be doing at home. A great physical therapist will make sure you have the tools and exercises needed to take control of your health, both inside and outside of the session.

3. How can you be sure I’ll make progress?

If you decide to work with a physical therapist, the intention should be to progress towards your goal. Oftentimes the  healthcare system will establish general objectives, such as reaching a “baseline” or returning to ADLs (active daily activities). Although these standard guidelines are a good starting point, the purpose of physical therapy is to reach your goals, not the goals of the insurance companies! By asking this question directly, you set a clear intention for the results you desire.

Physical therapy works best when there’s an active partnership between you and the PT. The more engaged you are in your health, the more progress you will make. By asking these three essential questions, you’ll set clear intentions for your physical therapy and build a better working relationship as a result.

Why the rates of athletic injuries are on the rise

With the weather warming up, COVID-19 cases decreasing, and spring sports starting up again, many young athletes are looking forward to making their return to sport. While excitement is high to get back out there and compete, it is important to prepare your body correctly to avoid injuries and stay healthy. Proper performance training in the Bethesda and Chevy Chase area can be the difference between a dream season and being forced to watch from the sideline!

After a long layoff from sport, the inherent risk of sustaining an injury is high, as one’s body is not used to performing sport-specific athletic activities. That’s why it is important to take some time before the season starts to get your mind and body ready for healthy peak performance.

Studies show that strength and conditioning training in athletes reduces sports injuries by 33% and overuse injuries by nearly 50%. So, it is important to get started with some simple, comfortable exercises in order to get back into playing shape and stay healthy.

A great way to start preseason training is with individual sport-specific drills with an emphasis on conditioning. From here, the athlete can progress into sport-specific drills with a partner or opponent. Then, go ahead and ramp up the activity into team drills, scrimmaging, and finally, game play. You see this progression in professional and collegiate sports, as activity is gradually increased as the body is able to adapt to the increased culminating stress.

The best way to get a sport-specific program that meets the needs of an individual athlete is to see a professional who can create a program based on his/her unique strengths and weaknesses. So, if you’re looking for optimized programs after a long offseason or injury, look into performance training in Bethesda or Chevy Chase and get that dream season off to the right start!

Cheers to a great new season and be sure to have some fun!

An Essential Part of Athletic Physical Therapy: Strength Training for Runners

Many of the runners that we work with at CHP supplement their running with strength training. Strength training is a large component of athletic physical therapy and provides a host of benefits including, but not limited to; reduced injury risk, increased muscular endurance, and faster running times. Research shows that regular strength training improves a runner’s speed and VO2 max. VO2 max is a measure of the maximal amount of oxygen that a person can use during exercise.

However, there is one important caveat to all of these great benefits. A runner’s strength training program must be designed and executed appropriately, and according to the runner’s goals and individual characteristics.

Luckily, most runners have similar goals. They wish to run faster and/or farther, and avoid injury.

Strength training programs for runners should consist of exercises that improve qualities specific to running.

When running, there is never a time when both feet are touching the ground simultaneously. The arms and legs are constantly moving in opposite and alternating directions as the body transitions from one foot to the other.

Therefore, we commonly advocate for runners to include more single leg exercises into their training.

These exercises include, but are not limited to: lunges, single leg squats, split squats, and single leg RDLs (Romanian deadlifts). Simply adding one of these activities into each of your strength training sessions can have a large impact. Take a look at the videos below for examples of these activities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aazACzyUR-Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK05iugeIDE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjDtPek261c

Furthermore, runners should not neglect upper body training. Arm drive is an essential component of running and helps to drive leg action. An effective runner cannot have one without the other!

A thoughtful and more scientific approach to strength training, specifically designed for runners, may be all that is needed to drastically improve your running performance.

How Tom Brady Approaches Off-Season Training

Tom Brady is a marvel to the world of Sports Physical Therapy and performance training.

As you may know, Tom Brady is about to make his 10th trip to the Superbowl at the age of 43. The opposing Quarterback in this game will be Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes was in kindergarten when Brady played in his first Superbowl back in 2002!

Athletes like Brady approach their off-season training with very specific goals in mind. These include sport and position specific goals (ex. Improving footwork, accuracy, throwing mechanics), as well as goals related to health and fitness.

The greats across sports such as Brady, Lebron James in basketball, and Wayne Gretzky in hockey focus their off-season training on staying healthy throughout the upcoming season. They understand the classic saying that “the best ability is availability.”

They realize that attributes that make them more resilient to injury will also improve their performance on the field, court, or ice.

Brady requires a great deal of mobility to best absorb the hits that accumulate throughout a football season. An increase in mobility will also allow him to throw accurately from the variety of awkward positions that the body is contorted into throughout a game, thus improving his performance as well.

Lebron James possesses an incredible amount of single leg control and strength. This is necessary to propel his nearly 270-pound body into the air as he jumps off 1 leg. This control and strength are equally important to avoid injury as he lands and must quickly adapt to awkward situations (players falling under him or contact him in the air).

Much like Brady, Gretzky must also be capable of contorting his body into a variety of different positions to pass or shoot from varying angles, absorb contact, or maneuver around opponents. These abilities require lots of mobility and strength throughout a variety of different positions.

The actual off-season training for Brady, James, and Gretzky will look different for each. However, the bulk of their training likely will not include commonly performed gym-based exercises, such as deadlifts or bench press. These are fantastic exercises when performed in the right context, however do little to help with the performance of these athletes.

It is essential for more athletes, specifically youth athletes to think more like Brady, James, and Gretzky when approaching their own off-season training. What are their goals for the off-season? What attributes best contribute to success on the field of play and help the athlete to stay there? Are the exercises being performed the best choices for this?

The optimal off-season program is unique to each individual and will even be different among athletes that play the same sport. However, it is essential that the previous questions are asked at the start of the off-season to ensure that weight room improvements will be transferred to the field of play.

Would you like help determining the attributes that you must work on this off-season to take your performance to the next level for the upcoming season? A custom designed off-season training program may be what you need to blow your coaches away.

Fact or Fiction: Do our bodies actually fall out of alignment?

We are excited to begin a series of posts discussing common myths in the realm of athletic physical therapy. Today’s myth commonly applies to back pain physical therapy as well.

Many of our patients have been told that their body may be “out of alignment”, or that their joints need to be “re-aligned.” Unfortunately, this is not the greatest advice.

Human beings are never in a static position. Even at rest, the simple act of breathing creates movement. By definition, being in alignment means that our bodies are in a straight line, or that all parts of our body are consistently in the appropriate relative positions to one another.

We cannot consistently be in alignment because we are always moving. If our body was constantly aligned, we would be unable to move anywhere.

Your body can feel as if it is out of alignment when you overuse or rely upon specific movement strategies or body positions. This can happen for a myriad of reasons and results in feelings of stiffness and discomfort that often temporarily feel better with an adjustment.

An adjustment can be helpful if the causes of stiffness or discomfort are also addressed. The root causes of stiffness or discomfort are typically addressed by focusing on movement limitations that are present.

Any relief provided by an adjustment will be temporary when the root cause of the discomfort or stiffness is left unaddressed. Check out the article below for some activities that may help!

3 Home Exercises to Help Your Back Pain

We hope that this provided some insight into a common rehab myth. Stay tuned for more to come!

Could this be the missing piece of your marathon training?

In a previous blog post, we introduced mat Pilates and how it helps people that are struggling with back pain.  However, many athletes use Pilates to improve other aspects of their performance and CHP’s own, Dr. Ciara Petry, uses it as part of her physical therapy treatment sessions.

As you know, Bethesda and Chevy Chase are packed with athletic people and runners of all levels. Many of these runners are preparing for a variety of races. Running volume increases as a runner prepares for a race, which increases the need for cross training. Cross training allows runners to enhance qualities that improve running performance.  However, it is important to avoid adding more pounding to the body in the process.

At Cohen Health and Performance, we have found Pilates to be incredibly helpful in this regard. Weekly supplementation of Pilates training helps to improve performance and/or reduce the risk of running related injuries.

Pilates includes low impact and multi-planar movements that enhance core stability, mobility, and other foundational components necessary for healthy running.

In an article published in 2018, Finatto et al performed a study measuring the effect of a 12-week Pilates mat program on running performance. The participants in this study were separated into 2 groups. Both groups participated in a run training program, however one of the groups also participated in classic mat Pilates training 2x/week for 1-hour per session. The study found that the Pilates group had been more resilient to fatigue when running. It was also found that runners in the Pilates training group significantly improved their 5-km times, thus suggesting that distance runners can transfer the gains made in Pilates to running!

Integrating Pilates into a runner’s performance training just 1-2x/week can improve running efficiency and performance. How cool is that?!

Here at CHP, we help our athletes conquer injury and optimize performance. Reach out today to schedule a running analysis with one of our performance physical therapists and to Dr. Ciara Petry, a certified Mat Pilates instructor, for personalized Pilates sessions!

Article for Reference: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0194057