No, Your Treadmill Is Not Making You Fat

August 22 2014

“Your treadmill is making you fat.” The first time I saw it, I did a double take. “Did I read that right?” I asked myself. A second look confirmed that I had. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” I thought. “Hopefully it doesn’t last long.” That was months ago, but this nasty myth is still here. Actually it’s everywhere – in the headlines, on Dr. Oz, in the blogs of your favorite Crossfit-loving, Paleo-eating fitness gurus. As more and more people take this absurd concept and spread it like some kind of weight-loss gospel, this myth has turned into an ugly hydra, growing more heads and becoming more difficult to defeat. So hand me my sword, because it’s time I took a swing at this monster.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Cheerleading

July 18 2014

Since modern cheerleaders are 97% female, it might surprise you to learn that cheering was originally a boys’ club. In the early 1900s, cheers and chants at games were lead by male students, and many schools had cheer-oriented fraternities. In fact, it wasn’t until men left to fight in World War II that ladies stepped in to lead their school’s cheers, and it’s a role they have never since left. However, today’s cheerleaders have only a passing resemblance to the sport’s early participants. Sideline clapping and jumping has largely given way to breathtaking routines filled with daring acrobatics and high-flying stunts as squads compete not only to raise their school’s spirit, but also to win against other squads. And with this increased complexity of the sport, the injury rate of participants has also gone up.

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Stretching: Static or Dynamic?

June 27 2014

Even if you’re not a yoga aficionado, pretty much everyone knows how good stretching can feel. Whether it’s that first stretch after waking up in the morning or that epic stretch after working for too long at the computer, stretching relaxes muscles, releases tension, and makes us feel better. It makes sense to think, “Hey, I like stretching! I should do more of that!” If you want to incorporate stretching into your daily life and reap benefits like increased agility, reduced risk of injury, and improved circulation, you’ve made a great decision. But where do you start?

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Sport Specific Injuries: Lacrosse

June 13 2014

Did you know that lacrosse is North America’s oldest team sport? Its aboriginal inventors played ceremonial games that lasted for two or three straight days. Thankfully, modern lacrosse games only last for a couple of hours, and today it is America’s fastest growing team sport. If you or your child is interested in trying out for the team, you’ll need to know what injury risks you face and what you can do to help prevent them.

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Understanding Concussions

June 5 2014

Last year, over 4,000 retired NFL players (many suffering from memory loss, depression, and other issues) sued the league, claiming it had concealed the dangers of concussions and pressured injured players to quickly return to the game. Since news of the lawsuit broke, concussions have become the hot button topic of the sports world. How do you protect players without compromising the fun and excitement of the game? Should kids be allowed to play contact sports? What are the real risks? In order to understand the issues surround this subject, it’s first important to know what a concussion is.

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H.I.I.T. & Crossfit

May 30 2014

You’ve probably seen them at the gym or the park – people sprinting back and forth, banging out sets of squats and pushups, maybe flipping big tires or running with logs in their arms. These are people engaging in high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) or its cousin Crossfit, the trend which has taken the fitness world by storm. H.I.I.T. is an exercise strategy that alternates short bursts of anaerobic activity (anaerobic is defined as “without air,” meaning the activity is intense enough to create an oxygen debt in the body) with recovery periods of more moderate activity. Crossfit expands upon this foundation, adding elements like weight lifting, calisthenics, and plyometrics into the workouts.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Gymnastics

May 23 2014

Gymnastics was one of only nine sports to be included in the inaugural modern Olympic Games back in 1896, though contemporary audiences might not have recognized it as such (athletes competed in calisthenics, rope climbing, and track & field events). Since that time, gymnastics has become a sport in which contrasting elements – power and beauty, force and grace – combine to create gravity defying routines of flips, twists, and tumbles. To do this, athletes must be strong, flexible, and fearless, but even the best gymnast will find themselves injured from time to time.

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No Such Thing As Old Age

May 2 2014

Several weeks ago, my colleague Faith was speaking with a new patient about the history of his back pain. When she asked why he was finally seeking treatment after dealing with his pain for six months, he answered, “Well, I turned 50 this year, so I just figured it was old age.” To which Faith replied, “There’s no such thing as old age.”

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Alternative Treatment

February 14 2014

Several months ago, I received a call from an advertiser who wanted to sell ad space in his publication. He gave me the normal spiel of how they reach X number of consumers in X square miles from your business, so your ad really only costs X dollars per potential customer, etc, etc. But then he went for what he thought would be his home run closer: “If you purchase an ad today, I’ll give you an exclusive,” he said. “You’ll be the only alternative treatment in the publication!”

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2013 India: Part 2

December 20 2013

Well, we’re back! Actually we got back a few weeks ago. Sorry for the delay in getting this blog post out. For some reason there’s always so much to do after you return to the country following a four week absence 🙂

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2013 India: Part 1

November 1 2013

By the time you read this, Bette and I will have been traveling for an entire day (and probably be suffering from a severe case of “flat butt”). We’re embarking on our 5th medical missions trip with Chapel Missions India!

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Don’t Fix Your Own Brakes

September 20 2013

As the owner of a “senior” vehicle, you’d think by now I’d be used to seeing large car repair bills, but I admit that I still sometimes get sticker shock by the cost of keeping that old Chevy on the roads. With car repair prices on the rise, it’s no surprise that many people try to do what they can to keep their car running without the cost of a professional mechanic. Changing wiper blades and fluid, spark plugs, and even your oil are simple tasks that can be safely done in your own home garage. However, I’d wager that almost none of us would ever attempt to fix our own brakes. Even though you could probably find a YouTube video on how to do it, or maybe you have a friend who is experienced with cars, most of us will still leave that kind of repair to the pros. Why is that? Because it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out the consequences of a home brake job gone wrong.

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Three Year Anniversary

July 5 2013

Today my blog is three years old! I know I don’t post as faithfully as I did when the blog was in its infancy (fortunately it’s because I’m so busy with patients), but I still want to take time to blow out some imaginary candles and share some of my favorite blog posts from the past three years…

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I Used To Be Able To…

May 31 2013

How many push-ups can you do? I bet many of you (especially the guys) answered, “Oh, I can’t do very many now, but I used to be able to do a lot!” That seems to be a common theme for all of us as we get older – talking about what we used to be able to do. Why can’t you do as many push-ups as you used to do? The primary reason is that you simply stopped doing them. Somewhere along the line, you got distracted by work, family, maybe an injury, and doing strength training exercises (such as push-ups) fell off the priority list. But depending on how old you are, another reason you can’t do as many push-ups may have to do with lost muscle mass.

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Would You Like To Hurt Now or Later?

April 26 2013

I’m not a mean guy. I don’t want to cause pain to anyone in the world. In fact, that’s why I became a physical therapist – to help people overcome pain so they can live their lives to the fullest. But in an ironic way, I sometimes have to encourage pain as a means to achieving this pain-free end. It’s an unfortunate truth about physical therapy and about the body’s healing process in general. Getting well can hurt, and sometimes this scares people away from the recovery treatments they need.

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Why Pain Is Like a House Plant

April 12 2013

It’s true I come from a farming family, but my experience is with fields of mint, not house plants. Several years ago, I was given a ficus elastica (yes, I had to look that up) as a gift, but it’s more commonly called a rubber plant. I dutifully placed it in an area where it would receive some sun – but not too much – and watered it weekly, thinking that was the extent of the attention my rubber plant needed.

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Medical Mission: Slovenia – Part 2

March 29 2013

We’re back! This week Bette and I returned from our medical mission trip in Slovenia, and as always, we’re so grateful to be home (if you missed my previous blog post on our trip, you can check it out here)! Since much of the work on our trip was complicated/delayed/rescheduled/cancelled by snow storms, we’re especially happy to see the pleasant spring weather that Idaho is getting this year.

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Medical Mission: Slovenia

March 1 2013

On Tuesday, Bette and I are leaving for our 5th medical mission trip with Calvary Chapel, but this journey still holds a first for us – we have never been to Slovenia. The Republic of Slovenia is a small country located in central Europe with a population of just over 2 million. As a modern nation with all of the Western conveniences, Slovenia will be a far cry from the slums of India we usually visit on these missions (where sewage runs in the middle of the street and people sometimes go their whole life without ever seeing a doctor). So why then, I hear you asking, do they need to be the recipient of medical missions?

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Don’t Wait For Uncle Sam

January 18 2013

This week, the Clinton Foundation hosted their second-annual Health Matters conference, an event where politicians, industry leaders, celebrities, and others gather to discuss ways to impact the health of our nation for the better. On paper, it sounds great. However, this event and others like it tend to all be the same: People repeat to each other the Americans-are-getting-fatter statistics, congratulate themselves on tackling the Very Important Problem of obesity, and conclude with the shared agreement that “something must be done.” Hands are shook, babies are kissed, money is pledged. But our obesity problem continues to grow.

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Get Back On The Treadmill

December 14 2012

If you’ve been paying much attention to the news lately, you’ve probably noticed an increasing number of articles popping up that question whether cardiovascular exercise will damage your heart. These stories are in response to studies that appear to show heart damage occurring in veteran marathon runners (you can find two such pieces here and here). Although studies on this subject have been around since the 1970s, the media have become more interested in them since the sudden death of ultrarunner Micah True (the “Caballo Blanco” of Born to Run fame) from heart disease earlier this year.

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Understanding Hip Replacement Surgery

November 2 2012

Happy Friday, everybody! Today’s blog is a guest post by Elizabeth Carrollton of drugwatch.com. Enjoy! – Alan

Understanding hip replacement surgery is important if it’s an option you’re considering to treat chronic hip problems. Being well-informed and engaged in the process as you prepare for surgery can make a big difference in your outcome, since there will be many important decisions to be made as your procedure and rehabilitation is planned. An aspect you’ll want to pay special attention to as you learn about the details of hip replacement is the type of implant to be used, since some have more risks associated with them than others.

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Why Can’t I Just…?

October 5 2012

October is National Physical Therapy Month! There are so many people who only have a vague concept (or no idea at all) of what physical therapy is, so it’s a good time to explain what it is that I really do. In a nutshell, physical therapy helps you move. When injury or illness takes away your ability to turn your head, bend over to tie your shoes, swing a golf club, walk to the bus, or any of the other thousands of activities you do throughout your day, physical therapists utilize exercise, education, and pain reduction techniques to help build your body back up so you can do the things you need to do.

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The Danger Zone

September 21 2012

Ducks in the road are a familiar sight to most locals. These mallards have spent generations living in the Wilson canal and other small bodies of water nearby. Most don’t even migrate any longer, instead choosing to spend their entire lives living off hand-outs from humans and scavenging the rest of their meals.

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Why I Don’t Want Bikers As Patients

August 24 2012

One of my favorite moments as a physical therapist came in the 1980s. I was sitting at a table in our clinic opposite three men – all with multiple lower-extremity injuries that had been surgically repaired. Suddenly it occurred to me that each of these men had become my patient as the result of a motorcycle accident. When I voiced this fact, instantly it seemed as if the men had known each other their whole lives. They started laughing, discussing their bikes, and swapping crash stories. And for the remainder of their treatment, they all scheduled their appointments so they could attend physical therapy at the same time.

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My Thoughts On The Olympics

August 17 2012

I love the Olympics! Watching the world’s finest athletes compete in not only your favorite sports, but also many other sports you never really get to see (how cool was the handball?!) is a once-in-a-lifetime-type experience that just happens to repeat itself every four years. Plus there’s great drama – the winners exude elation while everyone else runs the gamut from quiet disappointment to utter agony. And for many athletes (such as Tahmina Kohistani of Afghanistan), just being at the Olympics is the real prize.

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Ready, Set, Recover!

July 20 2012

In my nearly 30 year career as a physical therapist, I’ve seen this scenario countless times. Two people will start therapy at the same time. A few weeks later, one person will be completely recovered (in fact, they’re usually stronger and more flexible than they were before their injury) and ready to return to the activities they love. Meanwhile, the other person feels that they have made little progress in their therapy. They’re frustrated and thinking about quitting. So why do some patients recover faster than others? What factors determine how long your recovery will take?

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For the Record

June 22 2012

If you’ve ever been a patient of mine, chances are you’ve heard me talk about how important it is to have a physical therapist as a part of your medical team. Most people don’t think of their health care that way, but it’s true. The various physicians who provide services to you – including your primary care doctor, your dentist, any specialists you may see (such as an ophthalmologist or dermatologist), etc. – are a group of people working together towards a common goal (in this case, your optimal health). They are your medical team, and you are the team captain.

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National Running Day

June 1 2012

This Wednesday is National Running Day! You may not find it quite as exciting as National Hug Your Cat Day (June 4) or National Waffle Day (August 24), but I think National Running Day is yet another great opportunity to get out there and be active! I know I’ve blogged about running several times before (check out my previous thoughts here, here, here, and here), so I’ll try not to keep repeating myself, but running is such a great health topic that there’s always something new to talk about. Like how do you earn the right to say, “I’m a runner”?

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Play Time

May 18 2012

I love this time of year! The warmer temperatures, the windy yet sunny days that get longer and longer – it can only mean one thing: BASEBALL SEASON! And if you know me at all, you know I love softball just as much, if not more, than baseball because it’s a game I can actually play. For the past three years, our employees, family, and friends have come together each season to form Team IPT, Idaho Physical Therapy’s entrant in the Nampa Rec. Dept’s adult co-ed slowpitch softball league. We may only be a rag-tag group of marginally-talented players in bright orange shirts, but we have a lot of fun, and that’s the whole point.

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My First 5k

April 20 2012

Last Saturday, I participated in my first 5k, the Beat Coach Pete Fun Run/Walk. I’ll write “participated” here even though when I tell the story in person, I tend to use the word “coerced.” That coercing was done by my daughter and son-in-law, who run roughly a half-dozen races of varying lengths each year and love every quad-searing, oxygen-deprived minute. By contrast, I do all my running very non-competitively (i.e. indoors on a treadmill with Civil War documentaries on the TV to keep me company).

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Animal Cruelty Prevention Month

April 13 2012

Ghandi is credited with saying, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Since April is Nation Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month, I think it’s worth remembering. In an age when many pets get Christmas presents, birthday parties, and sometimes even their own Facebook pages (have you “liked” Zee the Zamzows Tee Dog yet?), it can be hard to imagine that animal cruelty still exists. But it does, and sometimes it’s closer than you think.

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The Power of Suggestion

March 23 2012

I’m not known for quoting Buddha, but I do like his statement, “We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think.” People really do underestimate the power of their mind. What we think will happen tends to be what actually does happen. We call these “self-fulfilling prophecies,” but in the medical world, they’re known as the “placebo effect” and the “nocebo effect.”

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Colorectal Cancer Awareness

March 9 2012

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer (meaning cancer of the colon or rectum) is the third most common cancer among American men and women and the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Each year, 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with this cancer, and another 50,000 will die. I lost my mother to this disease almost 20 years ago. Truly this is a cancer that is deserving of our attention towards prevention and early detection.

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Exercise Myths

February 17 2012

One of the definitions of a myth, according to Merriam-Webster, is “an unfounded or false notion.” Despite being inherently false, it seems like myths take on a life of their own, circulating for years, even decades after being disproven. Remember being told that if you sneezed with your eyes open, your eye balls would pop out? Or that if you drank soda while you ate Pop Rocks, your stomach would explode? And don’t forget the popular “drink a cup of coffee to sober up” line of thinking (sorry, this just creates a caffeinated drunk, but the person is no less drunk for it).

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5 Things That Keep Us Young

February 3 2012

Last week, I blogged about the top 5 things that make us feel old. This week, I thought I’d do the positive companion piece to that blog, the top 5 things that make us feel young. We’re all getting older, but why do some people seem to age better than others? Based what I’ve seen over my 25 year career as a physical therapist, here are some common traits of the young at heart:

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5 Things That Make Us Old

January 27 2012

Yesterday I was out making a purchase when I noticed a sign advertising the store’s senior discount. I asked the cashier what age qualified you for the price cut. Good news: I’m not there yet, but it did get me thinking about getting older. It’s happening to all of us, continually, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Yet why do some people seem to age better than others? Genetics surely has something to do with it, but are there other factors besides the clock and our genes? The answer is…yes!

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Something New To Stand For

January 20 2012

Did you know that in the 1940s, doctors recommended Camel brand cigarettes? With all we know about tobacco use today, that seems pretty incredible, but science has come a long way in the last several decades. By now, it’s no surprise to anyone that smoking, eating too much junk food, drinking too much alcohol, and being overweight are detrimental to your health. If you haven’t read about it yet, scientists have recently named another health hazard – too much sitting.

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A Different Kind of Budget

January 6 2012

We’re now one week into 2012! How are your resolutions going? If you’re like many Americans, you’ve vowed to lose weight and get in shape this year. Even though these goals are closely related (it’s a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone kind of resolution), they can still be overwhelming. As it turns out, sticking to an exercise plan is not unlike sticking to a financial budget.

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Another PT Christmas

December 23 2011

Happy Friday and Happy Holidays, everyone! Last year, I posted some physical therapist-approved gifts to get that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. I’ve decided to continue the tradition. Here are five more physical therapist-approved gifts. And the best part? Each of these items has a low price, and one only costs your creativity and time!

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India 2011: Part 2

December 16 2011

Well, we’re back! Most of you already knew that. As always, we’re so grateful to return home with a renewed understanding of how blessed we are in this country. We’ve been so busy since our homecoming (patients to see, relatives to visit, BSU football games to catch up on – what do you mean we lost?!) that this post is now two weeks late, but late is better than never… or so I’ve been told.

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