Alternative Treatment

October 1 2017

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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Sport Specific Injuries: Volleyball

September 23 2011

While my girls were in high school (three girls over the course of eight years), our household lived and breathed volleyball. They played on their school team (which twice was the Idaho state champion and another year was the runner-up) from August through October, then began the club volleyball season, which lasted from November until July. Between practices, games, and traveling to out-of-state tournaments, it was truly a year-round commitment for the entire family, but it was so much fun, we rarely thought of it that way.

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Good Muscle Memories

September 2 2011

What did you do this morning? Maybe you buttoned your shirt and tied yours shoes while getting dressed. Perhaps you walked the dog. After scrambling eggs or flipping pancakes for breakfast, you probably brushed your teeth. Although you may not have realized it at the time, your muscle memory has been busy from the moment you woke up.

Muscle memory (also called motor learning) is a type of procedural learning wherein an action is repeated until the movements required for it can be performed with little conscious effort or attention. Despite its name, muscle memory doesn’t reside in the muscles themselves, but rather in the complex neural pathways that are formed in our brains when the task is learned. The more the task is repeated, the more well-formed and efficient that pathway becomes.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Football

August 26 2011

Even though I have four daughters, football is a big deal in my family. We love to watch college teams (of course, our favorite is BSU), and while I admit I’m not a huge fan of the NFL, I do like to cheer for the Packers (I’m a shareholder, after all). I have been an assistant varsity football coach, and Idaho Physical Therapy used to provide the training services for the Idaho Stallions. Because of the sport’s high injury rate, we were kept pretty busy during the season. It’s the nature of the game.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Golf

August 12 2011

Although we have very mild winters here in the Treasure Valley, sometimes it seems that the cold, damp months go on forever. When the sun finally returns, what better way to celebrate than with a round of golf? By this point in the summer, I hope you’ve enjoyed many great games with friends and have avoided the injuries commonly experienced by golfers.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Bowling

July 15 2011

I love it when my kids and I can have something in common. When I was growing up, I enjoyed watching the 1960s cartoon The Flintstones. Twenty or so years later, I watched the syndicated reruns with my girls. One of the more memorable things about the show was the way Fred Flintstone bowled. He would run on his toes, the rest of his body motionless, ball held in outstretched arm behind him. Then he would fling it, almost side arm, as effortlessly as if it were a golf ball. Try as we might, none of us could ever quite duplicate his approach. The truth of the matter is, despite how easy Fred might make it look, bowling is a complex activity that often leads to injury.

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One Year Anniversary

July 1 2011

Well, today marks the one year anniversary of the day I started this blog. The time has really flown (they say it does when you have fun); it seems like just the other day I sat down to write my very first post. I want to thank everyone who has taken time to read my advice, opinions, and random thoughts. I never have to worry about writers’ block because it’s easy to figure out what to say to your friends!

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Maybe It Will Just Go Away…

June 24 2011

For life’s problems, there are pretty much two ways to respond – you can ignore the problem or you can address it. Deciding the appropriate response depends on the particular issue at hand. For example, fenced dogs who growl as you go by should be ignored. That way you don’t cause their bad behavior to escalate, and perhaps one day, the dog will learn you aren’t a threat that needs barked at. However, if you find your house has a rodent problem, ignoring it will only exacerbate the issue. You have to address the predicament before you’re overrun with furry, little home wreckers.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Swimming

June 17 2011

As a farm boy growing up in Canyon County, I never had much reason to know how to swim. We might go wading in a ditch on hot summer days, but that was pretty much the extent of my aquatic experience. Then years later in college, I had an epiphany – what if my child was drowning? Would I be able to save them? I had aspirations of being a father someday, and that thought brought me to a cold sweat. Immediately I sought help from a friend who worked as a lifeguard. Three days a week for several months, we met before classes, and he taught me every stroke he knew. In learning to swim, I felt I’d taken an important step in my journey towards fatherhood. And I’m proud to say that when I finally did become a father, each of my kids learned to swim at a young age.

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Sleep On It

April 29 2011

I’ve never been a good sleeper. When I was in high school, I had a paper route that got me up at 3:30am, seven days a week, in addition to after-school sports and working on my family’s mint farm. In graduate school, I survived on three hours of sleep a night as I balanced my studies with a full-time job and three kids. Now I do a little better; I average about five or six hours of shut eye. In the mornings, I always tell myself I need to get to bed earlier, but fast forward 18 hours or so and it’s easy for me to find excuses why I can stay up a little later.

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Barefoot Running: Part 2

April 22 2011

In my last blog post, I discussed some of the history behind the barefoot running movement, as well as the biomechanics behind why many think it’s a good idea. This week, I’ll talk about what it takes to transition to a workout without shoes.

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Barefoot Running: Part 1

April 8 2011

During the original running boom of the 1960s and 70s, barefoot running was made popular by such athletic giants as Abebe Bikila (an Olympic gold medalist marathoner) and Zola Budd (a world class 5k racer). In 2009, the movement experienced a resurgence thanks largely to the release of Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run, an exploration of barefoot running via the Tarahumara people of northern Mexico (natural runners who regularly cover hundreds of desert miles barefoot). Today, barefoot running has a small, but cult-like following of enthusiasts, most of whom claim it has changed their life by allowing them to be active in ways they never could in their shoe-wearing days.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Soccer

April 1 2011

Officially it’s about 150 years old, though its roots are much more long-standing. It’s the most popular sport in the world, and fans can participate through youth and amateur leagues, at the professional level, and even in video games. The passion surrounding this sport has been known to cause riots and even wars. I’m of course talking about association football – or as it’s more commonly called here in America, soccer.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Track & Field

March 18 2011

When you look at the huge mass of events held in modern Olympic competitions, it’s a little surprising to think that for the first dozen or so Olympics (hosted in ancient Greece in the original stadium in Olympia) the only event was the “stadion” run – the equivalent of a 200 meter sprint. Today’s track and field events can be as short as an indoor 50 meter dash or as long as a marathon. Athletes can be as specialized as a world-class shot putter or as versatile as a decathlete. But despite the variety of events, the basic mechanics of running, jumping, and throwing involved in every track and field competition can lead to injury if athletes do not take the necessary precautions.

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A Solid Investment

March 11 2011

The housing market crash, the stock market controversies, and the resulting economic slump have changed the way many people now think about investing in their future. Are banks still a safe place for my money? What if my social security is not there? With inflation on the rise, what if my savings aren’t enough? I wish I had the answers. But there is one thing I do know – if you want to make a foolproof, no-fail investment that will return rewards to you in spades, invest in your own health.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Baseball & Softball

March 4 2011

Known as the “all-American pastime,” baseball often appears in nostalgic montages alongside fireworks, apple pie, and the statue of Liberty. The sport’s heroes, such as Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, seem larger than life, propelling themselves and their sport into legendary status. And yet baseball has always been accessible to the Everyman. Anyone can play just about anywhere – all you need is a stick and a ball. From tee ball to the Special Olympics, from rec leagues to the MLB, just about everyone can find a game to participate in. That’s the greatness of baseball.

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Pronation or Supination?

February 25 2011

One of the wonderful design features of the human body is that we can do nearly any kind of activity without having to think about the functions in our body that must coordinate to make that activity happen. Even something as simple as walking or running is a complicated ballet of several structures – the muscular, nervous, skeletal, respiratory, and cardiac systems all must work together for you to keep your balance as you transfer your weight from one foot to the other.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Ice Hockey

February 18 2011

It seems like humans have been chasing a ball with a stick over ice almost as long as they can remember. Historical evidence shows that hockey-like games were played as far back as the middle ages and were spread between several continents. Today this popular pastime can be enjoyed on a variety of levels (youth, collegiate, semi-pro, professional, and even Olympic), and it’s also one of the few hard-hitting sports that is widely available to women.

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Sport Specific Injuries: Wrestling

February 4 2011

Wrestling is a sport that reaches back to antiquity. It’s written about in The Iliad and The Epic of Gilgamesh. It was made famous by the Greeks and Romans. The Pilgrims brought it with them to the New World – and discovered the Native Americans already knew it. Today wrestling can be as local as a youth wrestling club, as global as the Olympics, or as flamboyant as the WWE. Despite the varying ages and abilities of the world’s wrestlers, there are several common injuries that every wrestling athlete needs to be aware of.

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Do I Need PT?

January 28 2011

This week I was talking with a gentleman who was facing his second total hip replacement. He asked my opinion on physical therapy after such a surgery. “My doctor says I don’t need physical therapy, and that all I have to do to get better is walk,” he said. “But I want to get the best results I can from all this.”

I will never tell anyone to go against the advice of their doctor, but I do like to educate people on what physical therapy is, who it’s for, and when it’s appropriate.

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Sports Specific Injuries: Basketball

January 21 2011

In 1891, Dr. James Naismith invented a game to keep his P.E. students fit during the winter months. It involved a simple ball and a peach basket nailed to a gymnasium wall. In the almost 120 years since, basketball’s popularity has exploded. The sport’s influence ranges from basketball baby toys up to the NBA and even the Olympics, and it’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t know at least the basics of how to play.

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A PT Christmas

December 17 2010

My kids say my wife and I are hard to shop for. They don’t want to get me “just another piece of sports memorabilia” for our clinic walls, and they don’t want to get my wife “just another book” for her extensive fiction collection. But I think I’m pretty easily satisfied, gift-wise. In fact, here’s a list of physical therapist-approved gifts that I think are both thoughtful and useful – perfect for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list:

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One Change

October 15 2010

In a past post, I’ve warned against products that claim to produce lightning-quick fitness or weight-loss results (sorry to say, most are scams or dangerously unhealthy). Today, however, I’m going to contradict myself a little.

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Active Therapy

October 1 2010

When people come to physical therapy for the first time, they’re often surprised to learn that they will be exercising throughout their treatment (and hopefully beyond). Nearly all of the healthcare we experience in our lives requires little more of us than to simply show up and receive treatment; it’s a passive experience. But unlike a trip to the dentist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, masseuse, or various types of doctors, physical therapy is an active experience. I sometimes think it should be renamed active therapy.

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Pain or Pills?

September 24 2010

Unless you’re one of the 17 people in the US who suffers from CIPA (congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, also called the “no pain disease”), pain is a sometimes nasty fact of life. It’s alternately a gift and a curse; pain provides us with invaluable feedback for self-preservation (such as “don’t touch that burner, it’s hot”), but sometimes it stays beyond the helpful stage, becoming a chronic challenge.

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