Vary Your Routine and Improve Your Fitness

fitnessCross-training involves engaging in different types of physical activity and brings multiple benefits. It is an excellent way to prevent sports-related injuries, improve your skill in a variety of sports and improve your overall health — all while keeping workout boredom at bay. A good cross-training program improves all three elements of fitness: aerobic endurance, flexibility and strength.

You can cross-train within the same workout (e.g., doing a combination of stretching and a strength-training class) or by alternating activities throughout the week (cycling one day, jogging the next, taking a dance class over the weekend). It’s especially helpful to switch between high-impact workouts (running, tennis, racquetball) and low-impact activities (swimming, recumbent cycling), since combining the two will increase endurance, build muscle and improve cardiovascular health — all while avoiding repetitive strain injuries.

How exactly does cross-training offer sports-related injury prevention? Let’s say you are a competitive runner. You run every day, never allowing your body to rest and recover. You overuse certain muscle groups and ignore others, causing an imbalance in your body that can easily lead to strain. When cross-training, you space your runs out to every other day, and on your “off” days, you alternate yoga, a Pilates class and a short workout on a recumbent bike at your gym. Your sore lower back and tight hamstrings start to abate, as you stretch these key muscles in yoga. Pilates strengthens your core and minimizes the impact to joints and soft tissues. And your stiff knees benefit from the safe strengthening offered by the recumbent bike.

Runners aren’t the only ones who can benefit from cross-training. Professional athletes are fond of this type of training (we’ve all heard stories of football players taking up ballet), but nonathletic types will find it equally beneficial. The beauty of cross-training is that simple, fun activities apply. Taking a hike with your dog one day and attending a swing-dance class the next qualifies as cross-training. The goal is to enjoy 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, and to make sure you tackle strength training, flexibility and exercise.

Talk with us about designing a cross-training program that works for you. After all, the key to a successful fitness program is making it fun and pain-free!

Maintaining Strength While Undergoing Dialysis


A major advance in treating the kidney failure of end-stage kidney disease is the ability to undergo dialysis — the treatment that removes waste and excess fluid from the blood — at home rather than at a hospital or other outside facility. However, a downside to this development is that a home-dialysis patient is less likely to be seen by a rehabilitation specialist who can evaluate whether he or she would benefit from physical therapy.In virtually all cases, patients benefit from such a program because over time, long periods of immobility lead to loss of strength and function. Physical therapy, especially targeted strengthening and balance activities, can significantly limit those side effects, breaking what might otherwise become a cycle of debilitation or deconditioning, whereby the patient does not feel well, becomes inactive, grows weaker and can do even less, leading to more inactivity.Physical therapy services can be rendered at home or elsewhere; the location depends on one’s individual situation. If a program involving relatively simple equipment such as elastic resistance bands is all that is required, home sessions can be quite convenient. However, because using the wider variety of equipment at an outside physical therapy facility could hasten progress, rehabilitation at a physical therapy facility might be a better option.Every dialysis patient should exercise to the degree that he or she can (with the physician’s permission), understanding that setting goals can help greatly in making progress. Each session should include a very light warm-up and cool-down, with the bulk of the exercise — walking, riding a stationary bike, rowing — in between. The central conditioning workout can last only a few minutes, at first, but as the weeks pass, it should become easier to add time until the session lasts about a half-hour, with 5- to 10-minute warm-ups and cool-downs.

Whether you are about to undergo or are undergoing dialysis, we can design a program to help you avoid the side effects inherent in the immobility that often accompanies the procedure. This way, you can break the cycle of debilitation and feel more like yourself once again.

Restoring Range of Motion After Elbow Replacement


Total elbow replacement refers to a surgery that creates an artificial joint. Damage to your elbow can initially occur from badly broken bones, severely torn tissues, a tumor in or around the elbow, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, or unsuccessful previous surgery.Your normal elbow joint is comprised of two bones — the humerus in the upper arm and the ulna in the lower arm. When the joint is significantly damaged, surgery is usually required. The artificial elbow joint has two stems of metal, joined by a metal and plastic hinge to allow movement. While most total elbow replacements are successful, surgery can involve significant bone removal, nerve and blood vessel damage, dislocation of the artificial joint, allergic reaction to the new joint and joint loosening over time.Although the prognosis of elbow replacement surgery is good, physical therapy can be the missing piece to help you regain strength and full range of motion in your arm. Typically, individuals wearing a splint begin physical therapy a few weeks later than those who do not wear a splint.

Initially, you will perform gentle motion exercises. When appropriate, strength training can begin, targeting muscles in and around the elbow to help you regain normal movement. Exercises and treatments may include

• light grip strengthening to start

• active elbow and wrist exercises in the second phase

• flexibility techniques for wrist, elbow and shoulder

• strategies to relieve pain, inflammation or swelling

When a physical therapy program is planned early on, mobility can significantly improve — with use of the new elbow — as soon as 12 weeks after surgery. Although full recovery can take up to a year, the process is generally much more effective when physical therapy is a consistent part of therapy.

Dedication is key to successful rehabilitation. We can devise an appropriate exercise program to strengthen your elbow.

Arm Yourself After a Distal Radius Fracture


 A distal radius fracture — a break near the wrist in the largest forearm bone — is one of the most common injuries of the forearm. The fracture often occurs when a person falls onto an outstretched hand. Other causes include direct impact or axial forces. Treatment depends on such factors as the exact nature of the fracture, your age and health, and previous activity level.

It is standard treatment to receive physical therapy for a distal radius fracture — whether you wear a cast or receive surgery. This is because it is considered critical to

• gently get your wrist joint moving comfortably again

• prevent stiffness in your fingers, elbow and shoulder

• ease you back into normal activities

Most patients regain most of their movement if they follow a physical therapy program and aftercare instructions from their doctor. Permanent pain is unlikely, and you can expect to return to normal recreation and work activities.

Generally, intra-articular fractures, which can result in stiffness, pain and a risk of developing arthritis, are the most limiting. For these cases in particular, physical therapy can provide the most significant improvement in rehabilitation after a distal radius fracture.

While active contact sports should be postponed for approximately four months, we can design an individual program that includes functional activities such as bike riding and swimming. By following a carefully designed physical therapy program, you can expect to recover from a distal radius fracture.