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Address: 4940 Hampden Ln, Suite 201,
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

Why “Shoulders Down and Back” Is Not Helpful

“Shoulders down and back” is a cue that is commonly used to correct one’s posture. However, as performance physical therapists we find this cue to be detrimental to how the shoulder complex is meant to function. In fact, correcting this belief has been one of the most helpful suggestions during our virtual physical therapy sessions and throughout the injury rehabilitation process.

Pulling the shoulder blades down and back opposes necessary shoulder blade during reaching activities. The shoulder blades are meant to elevate and abduct (move apart) as the arm is moved away from the body.

The motion of the shoulder blades moving away from the spine is called protraction. Protraction is required to properly perform pushups or reach in any direction.

This is of particular importance for active people that wish to lift weights or play a sport. Attempting to keep the shoulders “down and back” as the arms need to move away from the body will negatively impact the mechanics of the shoulder and possibly result in injury.

“Shoulders down and back” may work for drills such as deadlifts, rows, and farmers carries, however it is useful to forget this cue for other activities, such as posture correction!

Fact or Fiction: I need to be using a foam roller

A common belief in the world of athletic physical therapy in Chevy Chase or Bethesda is that athletes and active people must consistently foam roll for recovery. This belief is further perpetuated in the world of performance training. Simply pop your head inside any gym here and you will see what I mean!

Like most things, foam rollers have a time and place.  “Rolling out” often feels good and the routine of doing so prior to training helps many people get into the proper mindset for training. Furthermore, the sensation of foam rolling may help the body relax when you are not exercising.

Foam rollers are a great tool for these reasons, however some people claim that these tools “break up” knots in muscles and “smooth” out the tissues of the body. This is simply not the case.

The human body is very resilient. If it were fragile enough to be structurally altered by a foam roller then we would be in a lot of trouble! Could you imagine what would happen to your body when lifting weights if it could be drastically changed by a round piece of foam?

The good news is that a foam roller is not going to do any harm, however whether or not you should use one depends on what you are looking to get out of it.

**Credit for image “Foam rolling on back” by PTPioneer is licensed under CC BY


My Favorite Piece of Health Technology in 2020

Trackable health data has produced entire industries, the most prominent of which are wearable health tracking technology. This technology can also be used to enhance the results of athletic physical therapy and performance training.

Wearable health trackers commonly measure things such as heart rate, step count, sleep quality, and physical activity. This data is useful when it is utilized to make better health decisions and develop healthier habits.

However, it is easy to become obsessed and overwhelmed with the constant influx of data. When I got my first piece of wearable technology I became so obsessed with the data that it actually caused me stress. Always remember that this data is information meant to improve your health. The data is for you to interpret and adapt to your lifestyle!

With that being said, my favorite piece of health technology in 2020 is the Oura Ring.

The Oura Ring is a wearable health tracker that detects health information through the finger and has proven to be more accurate than most commonly used health trackers. For more information about Oura Ring, check out their website

However, its accuracy is not the reason that Oura Ring is my favorite piece of technology in 2020.

This year Oura conducted research to determine if the data collected could be used to predict when someone is infected with COVID-19. Although more research is needed, the results are promising and the answer appears to be yes. For more information on this topic, check out the article below.

Do you have any questions about health and fitness technology? If so, please respond to this email and ask away!

P.S. We have no affiliation with Oura and do not receive anything by endorsing them!

Conquer Pain and Stay Safe with Virtual Physical Therapy!

The health and safety of our Cohen Health & Performance family is our greatest priority. While we remain open and continue to take great precautions, we also offer virtual physical therapy for those that desire to remain home during these uncertain times.

Previously, we had been offering virtual physical therapy sessions to help our patients/clients living out of state and are now utilizing it successfully with our patients right here in Bethesda and Chevy Chase. This has helped us to continue to carry out our mission of helping active people, like you, get out of pain, back to moving well, and performing the activities that you love in new and innovative ways.

How do you know if virtual physical therapy is right for you?

Are you currently experiencing any discomfort or movement limitations that you now have the time to address? Are you hoping to remain active while reducing your risk of injury from the safety of your own home?

If so, then you are a perfect fit for virtual PT!

Now we know what you may be thinking….

What is virtual physical therapy? How does this actually work? Glad you asked!

Virtual Physical Therapy

You may also be thinking that we couldn’t possibly provide that much help without physically being present.

Many of our past patients initially thought the same thing and achieved amazing results!

However, don’t take our word for it. Give us a call and make us prove it! Perhaps we can even offer you a trial session!

CHP Spotlight Interview: Steve Ballance, Co-Owner Digin Baseball

In this edition of the CHP Spotlight Interview series, Steve shared the wisdom and insight he has gained from being a baseball coach for nearly 20 years. Steve was kind enough to share the biggest mistakes he sees high school players make, in addition to how he approaches arm care for pitchers. Furthermore, he provides valuable insights to help parents differentiate a great coach from the rest. Check out this interview to find out this information and much more!

The Most Overlooked Part Of Health

Exercise and nutrition are often the first things that people think of when creating their health and fitness goals. And when it comes to injuries, it is common to blame things related to exercise or posture.

However, in my experience as a physical therapist, I rarely hear people attribute injuries to sleep.

Research tells us that sleep is just as important to your health as nutrition and exercise. In fact, insufficient sleep has been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and can have an impact on the immune system.

Thus, it is no surprise that injury risk increases when you are sleep deprived. In fact, the majority of injuries in professional basketball occur when players are sleep deprived on road trips.

So, what can you do about it?

The CDC recommends getting 7 or more quality hours of sleep per night. There are several things you can do to ensure you get good quality sleep to avoid injury and stay healthy.

To start, you can practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a set of behaviors that can affect sleep quantity and quality. These behaviors can include going to bed and waking at the same time daily and avoiding alcohol or caffeine prior to bedtime.

Another large influence on sleep quality is light. Specifically, blue light suppresses production of one of our sleep hormones, melatonin. Blue light is emitted from the electronic devices we use daily such as computers and phones, and also from LED light bulbs. If you want to get fancy, purchase some blue light blocking glasses to wear a few hours before bed. However, if you want to keep it simple, simply place an electronic device curfew a few hours before bedtime.

There are a multitude of things that you can start doing right now to improve your sleep quality. For any further questions regarding sleep and how it affects your injury risk, please contact us at (240) 686-5609.