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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September 9 2011

The media love buzz words, and one of the major ones being thrown for around the last several years is “obesity epidemic.” We’re in one, and unfortunately, it’s not just a grown-up problem. Our poor eating habits and lack of exercise are showing up on our kids too, often around their waists. I’m not a doom and gloom kind of guy, so I won’t go into all the negative statistics here. The bottom line is that healthy, active kids have a better chance of growing into healthy, active adults who are less at risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and all the other ailments associated with being overweight.

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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: 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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Your Own Role Model

August 5 2011

Looking up to a role model is a natural part of the human experience. It comes most easily when we’re children. What little boy growing up in the ‘50s didn’t want to hit a baseball like Mickey Mantle or throw a spiral like Johnny Unitas? Then there are the role models closer to home; maybe you hoped one day to be as strong as your dad or as fast as your big brother. Looking up to a role model gives us something to strive for and a belief that we can be better. But you can only take this so far.

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Sun Safety

July 29 2011

Okay, maybe I’m a little late to the party here, but I was recently shocked by a statistic I heard – that Boise is the #1 city in THE WHOLE COUNTRY for skin cancer deaths (see one article here). I guess on one hand, it’s not that surprising. We have beautiful, clear summer days and mild winter months that make it easy to be outside and enjoy Idaho’s natural wonders. And if you’ve lived here for a while like I have (a.k.a. we’re gettin’ old, folks), then odds are you grew up spending long sunny days working on your family’s farm or ranch. I don’t regret the time spent outside or the memories made while doing it, but it’s worth reminding ourselves from time to time that so much sun exposure does add up.

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The Dangers of Dehydration

July 22 2011

I used to coach a fast pitch club softball team. During the summer, we’d travel to tournaments where we’d play two to five 7-inning games every day. While these tournaments were always tons of fun (all softball, all day, right?!), dehydration was a constant threat. Sweat, heat, lack of shade, exercise – the other coaches and I had to constantly monitor not only the players but also ourselves for signs that we needed more fluids. I’m thankful we never had anyone become dangerously dehydrated, but there were a few close calls.

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Bike to Work Week

May 13 2011

May 16-20 is Bike to Work Week. During this time, people are encouraged to try out a more car-free lifestyle by biking to work and other errands rather than driving. The economical and ecological benefits of cycling over driving are huge (less wear and tear on your car, cheaper fuel costs, and a smaller carbon footprint), but perhaps the biggest bonus comes from the healthful profits of being active.

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National Runners’ Month

May 6 2011

It seems like every month is devoted to one or more worthy causes. January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, as well as National Mentoring Month. October is National Crime Prevention Month and National Physical Therapy Month (hint, hint). May is a particularly busy month; it celebrates National Bike Month, National Mental Health Month, and National Runners’ Month. I’m going to discuss the latter.

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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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5 Reasons to Participate in the Beat Coach Pete Fun Run

April 15 2011

Alan asked me to guest blog for him this week and share my experience of this year’s Beat Coach Pete Scholarship Fun Run. I COULD tell you about how much fun I had, but instead, I’d rather give you reasons to sign up for the run next year and have fun yourself.

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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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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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Reach For It

January 14 2011

You’ve heard the saying, “it’s like riding a bike” – meaning that once you’ve learned an action, it becomes so ingrained (becomes instinct in a sense) that you’ll always be able to do it, no matter if it’s been years since you’ve performed the action. I’m sorry to tell you, folks, but there’s not a whole lot of truth in that statement.

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Pre-habilitation

October 22 2010

In my career as a physical therapist, I’ve spent most of my time helping people rehabilitate AFTER – after surgery, after an injury, after an illness – and I can say without a doubt that the people who recover best were the ones who prepared their bodies BEFORE the event. This is called pre-habilitation.

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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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