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What The End Of My Sports Career Taught Me

Boy have times changed. Look at all that hair! Apparently they couldn’t do anything about the sun on picture day…

“I need to stretch more. Maybe I should try Yoga.”

“I’ve heard Pilates is really good for my core. Maybe I need to check out a class?”

“Strength training is important so perhaps I need to start lifting weights but where do I start?”

Most of us have had thoughts like this when considering different types of exercise.

The world of health, fitness, sports physical therapy and injury rehabilitation is huge and may seem overwhelming. I recall when I felt confused about how to proceed with my fitness journey.

After finishing my college football career, I no longer had coaches to guide my training. No longer did I have prescheduled practice, conditioning workouts, weight training, and recovery workouts (usually a mixture of foam rolling, stretching, yoga and light cardio).

I was unsure of what to do so I simply continued training as I always had. I lifted weights as per my usual off-season program and performed a couple conditioning workouts per week.

After a few weeks of doing this, I decided to ask myself a simple question. “Why?”

What was my training goal now? What were the best ways to achieve these goals? Upon some reflection and jotting down a few notes I quickly realized that my training program was not in line with my goals at that time.

My football career was over. I finally had the opportunity to get healthy and stay that way.

However, I really enjoyed feeling strong and the process of lifting weights. Also, I was studying to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) so had to practice what I preach (this was prior to physical therapy school).

I decided to create a strength training program that consisted of exercises to promote strength, while also improving my mobility. The goals were to improve my strength and muscle mass, while feeling great overall.

This was the optimal training approach for me at the time and I was only able to realize that by slowing down and asking a few simple questions.

When was the last time you did that? Try asking yourself the following questions.

  • What are the outcomes that I am looking for from my training? Do I want to become stronger? Do I want to live with less discomfort? Become more mobile? The key is being honest here!
  • What are the best ways to achieve the outcomes I am looking for?
  • If I am not sure of #2 above, who can help me figure that out?

As you can see with question 3 above, you do not need to have all the answers yourself. There are many people out there available to help you reach your goals but no one can determine what those goals are.

Once you gain clarity about your goals, our team of Performance Physical Therapists in Chevy Chase would love to help you achieve them. In addition to being Doctors of Physical Therapy, our team of Performance Physical Therapists are Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists that specialize in helping injured athletes get back in the game.

Does Your Metabolism Actually Slow As You Age?

As we age it is common to feel that it is increasingly difficult to prevent injury or reach our fitness goals. We have spoken to many people in Bethesda that feel the help of a physical therapist is inevitable. Many challenges that are experienced are often attributed to a slowing metabolism.

However, this may not be the case.

There has been evidence that suggests that our metabolism doesn’t slow much, if at all, during adulthood. However, even if we later discover that some of these findings are misleading, a slowing metabolism is not the only reason that it takes longer to recover from injuries or fail to reach our fitness goals as we age.

Many of the challenges associated with aging stem from lifestyle changes.

In modern times humans have become more sedentary as we age. We no longer participate in organized sports, play outdoor games with our friends, and migrate to sedentary desk jobs for much of the day. This results in a large decrease in our daily energy expenditure and increases our risk of injury. Prolonged sedentary activity causes our body to become de-conditioned and less prepared for the rigors of life. As an example, this is why we suggest partaking in a running analysis prior to training for a race.

Another factor we may not realize is that as we get older, we take on a lot more responsibility.

Think back to your teenage years or time in your 20s. Did you have a lot of worries back then? A career? Family commitments? A mortgage? As these “adult things” add up, so do our commitments, resulting in less free time. Less time for exercise, less time for self-care, and less time for sleep.

Countless studies have shown us that as sleep decreases our health is negatively impacted in several ways, including an increased risk of orthopedic injury.

While it may be easy to see all of this as a negative, the good news is that many of the seemingly negative effects of aging are not as inevitable as we may have thought! Furthermore, feeling better and healthier doesn’t require you to be perfect.

As performance physical therapists, we help our patients identify the smallest possible improvement that will make the largest possible impact to overcome an injury.


Image Information

“Tiantan Park-life: The Elderly Exercising in China’s Parks – Parallel Bars” by _chrisUK is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Exercise Snacking: A Simple Approach To Aging That Can Actually Improve Muscle Function

It’s no secret that finding time to exercise gets more difficult with age. As professional, family, and personal responsibilities stack up, it becomes more and more challenging to find time to get to the gym or exercise.

As part of the aging process, our performance physical therapy patients also tend to lose muscle mass and function. One well-known combatant of muscle loss is resistance training, though it does require access to both exercise equipment and the time to work out.

If you find yourself struggling to get to the gym as you’re getting older, there’s good news! A recent study from The Centre for Sport in Chesterfield, UK, concluded that short bouts of exercise spread throughout the day are an effective method to improve muscle function in a time-efficient manner.

“Exercise snacking,” as the study coined, is the process of breaking down exercise into short sessions throughout the day. During the 28-day study, individuals doing a twice daily home-based exercise snacking program improved their lower limb muscle function and size compared to a control group. In addition, not only did their maximum leg pressing power increase, but those who followed the exercise snacking program also improved their 60-second sit-stand scores.

Although the study is still being examined, the data suggests that “exercise snacking,” or short bouts of exercise, may be a promising strategy to improve muscle function in older adults. Something as simple as a short walk could do the trick.

If you often struggle to find time to exercise, “exercise snacking” is a super time-efficient method to combat the side effects of aging while staying in shape.

For a more personalized approach, our virtual physical therapy team in Chevy Chase can help! Contact us today for a free consultation.

Why Some Warmups Aren’t Useful

As performance physical therapists in Bethesda and Chevy Chase, we work within a very knowledgeable and active community.  Our clients and patients understand the importance of warming up.

Warming up is commonly touted as essential for anyone wishing to avoid injury during exercise, performance training, or running.

We agree with this statement; however, warmup routines are often implemented in a non-productive way.

There is a time and place for everything, however this does not mean that you need to stretch, roll around on the ground, and perform “activation” drills prior to being ready for exercise.

In addition to increasing total body temperature, a warmup routine should prepare the body for the specific workout that is going to take place. For this reason, we call warming up “movement preparation.” The body is being prepared to move!

Movement preparation should include drills that train the skills necessary for the day’s workout. Many times, these drills will look similar to the exercises within that day’s work out.

If you are getting ready to run, perform activities that practice things necessary to run effectively. If you are going to lift weights, practice movements similar to the lifts you are going to perform (ie. If you are going to squat, then squat in your warmup!).

This advise applies regardless of whether you are healthy, injured, in performance physical therapy, or training for performance.

Below are 2 drills that we often use during movement preparation prior to running. Each drill practices single leg balance, the ability to shock absorb on one leg, and trunk rotation. These are all attributes necessary for running.

Single leg knee to chest
Forward lunge with cross connect

Furthermore, if you have been sitting at a desk for the majority of the day, you may need a more comprehensive warmup. On the other hand, if you have an active job requiring you to move in a variety of different ways then your warmup may not need to be as comprehensive.

Movement preparation is necessary, however it is essential to be purposeful, rather than mindlessly performing the same thing before every workout.

3 Home Exercises to Help with Your Back Pain

Did you know that according to research, over 70% of Americans will experience back pain during their lives?

Surprisingly, this statistic remains high among active people. Sometimes their training even contributes to it!

One of the things you can do to help reverse this trend is to implement Pilates into your training. Dr. Ciara is a physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor. She has taught us how to incorporate Pilates into the treatment of physical therapy patients right here in Bethesda and Chevy Chase. These principles can also be used in performance training.

The good news is that Pilates doesn’t require you to go to a Pilates studio. Many Pilates exercises can be done from home and performed within your training regimen.

Begin with the 3 exercises below.

  1. Roll like a ball into Zen Teaser (C-Curve)
  2. Single Leg Stretch
  3. Curtsy Reach

The goal of these activities are to teach you how to control your body using your deep abdominals and glutes. Therefore, it is essential to focus on quality of movement, rather than the quantity performed. There are no heros with these exercises!

To learn more about Pilates, check out last weeks article below!

What Actually is Pilates?