Stronger than Yesterday: Getting F.I.T.T

By Kirstie Chase for Athletico

F.I.T.T. is an acronym that was created to address many of the important questions people have about exercise programs. This principle can be applied directly to strength training. Using the F.I.T.T. principle in combination with S.M.A.R.T goals is a great way to cultivate confidence, generate accountability to goals and improve your physical prowess!

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The F.I.T.T. principle is comprised of Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. Combining these factors is a safe and valuable way to answer the questions how often, when and how much effort is needed to strength train. Ultimately, this is a valuable way to create an exercise schedule. Since strength-based workouts follow different parameters than other forms of exercise (running, yoga, etc.), the resulting tips can be applied to strength training specifically.

Frequency

Frequency is the first category listed within the F.I.T.T. principle. Frequency can be described as how often a person should lift weights.1

Frequency as it relates to strength training should be done two to three days a week.2 It is important to allow at least one day of rest between workout days to allow muscles to regenerate. Exercising the same musculature multiple days in a row can lead to increased soreness and potentially injury.

Intensity

Intensity is a measure of how challenging a workout is. In terms of strength training, the amount of weight lifted, or resistance used, indicates the intensity at which one works.1

It is important to use weights that challenge the body, but that are still easy enough to maintain proper form. If building overall strength is your goal, consider using heavier weights for fewer repetitions. On the other hand, it is better to use lighter weights for more repetitions if greater muscular endurance is the goal.2

Time

When it comes to strength training, time can be understood in sets and repetitions. Below are a few parameters to consider:

  • A set is a group of repetitions. It is important to do more than one set of an exercise to build strength in the muscles being used. Three is a commonly recommended set amount, but more advanced training may recommend more.2
  • To build greater strength, consider sets that have anywhere from one to five reps at heavier weights.
  • For general fitness programs aimed at building strength and endurance, incorporate sets that have a greater amount of reps. Three sets that include eight to twelve reps is recommended for beginners, those with injuries and those over the age of 50.2
  • Include anywhere from one to three minutes of rest between sets.

Type

Type provides insight into what exercises should be included in a workout. Since every movement of the body requires the use of at least one or two muscles, the focus of resistance training should be to build total body strength. There are unlimited ways to combine exercises, however general strength can be increased by completing eight to ten different movements that challenge the major muscle groups.2

Use F.I.T.T. to get Fit!

As you begin a new strength training program, take time to consider how the F.I.T.T. principle can be used for your benefit! Goal setting gets the mind ready to take on new tasks, while the tips above help to create a plan of action to turn your dreams into a reality.

As always, if you feel any unusual pain or discomfort after your workout, click here to set up a complimentary injury screening.

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7 Common Youth Basketball Injuries

By Sean Leninger, PT, DPT for Athletico

Basketball is a popular sport among youth athletes, but the duration of the season inyouth-basketball-injuries combination with the athleticism required by players can lead to injury.

Some of the most common injuries experienced by youth basketball players include muscle strains, ankle sprains,  Jumper’s knee and shin splints. Fortunately there are ways to prevent these injuries from happening. Read below to learn more about seven types of injuries that young basketball players are at risk for, as well as some injury prevention tips to help keep young athletes on the court.

  1. Muscle Contusions

One of the most common acute injuries suffered by young basketball players is a muscle contusion, which occurs secondary to impact. In basketball, it is not unusual for a player to accidentally ‘knee’ another player in the thigh causing a bruise to develop. Although painful, this type of injury is typically not serious.

With acute muscle contusions (less than 72 hours after injury), typical treatment includes rest, ice and compression. Once beyond the acute phase of injury, gradual return to activity is recommended and may include light stretching, progressive strengthening, and eventual return to sport once pain has subsided and full function is regained.

  1. Muscle Strains

In addition to muscle contusions, many young basketball players experience muscle strains, or ‘pulled’ muscles. The hamstring, calf and adductors (inner thigh) are common sites for muscle strains to occur given the functional demands of a sport like basketball. Strains can vary in severity from mild (Grade I) to serious (Grade III). Grade I strains occur when the muscle/tendon is overstretched. Small micro-tears in the muscle may or may not occur and the integrity of the muscle remains intact. Grade II strains involve a greater amount of torn muscle fibers and require longer recovery than a Grade I strain. Lastly, Grade III strains occur when the muscle tears or ruptures completely. This type of strain may require surgical intervention for full function to be restored.

Depending on the severity of the muscle strain (Grades I and II), return to sport may take anywhere from 2-6 weeks in most cases. As mentioned previously with muscle contusions, treatment for a muscle strain may include modalities (e.g. ice or heat), stretching, gradual strengthening, eventually progressing to advanced therapeutic exercises, along with sport specific activities such as drills, running, cutting, jumping, etc.

  1. Ankle Sprains

Most people have experienced the classic ‘low’/lateral ankle sprain that is the result of rolling/inverting the ankle. In basketball, ankle sprains can occur when cutting, accidentally stepping on an opponent’s foot or landing awkwardly.  Lateral ankle sprains involve over-stretching of the ATFL (Anterior Talofibular Ligament) and/or CFL (Calcaneofibular Ligament). Much like muscle strains, sprains are graded on a scale from I through III, with Grade I sprains being mild and Grade III sprains being considered severe.

Acute ankle sprains (Grades I-II) are typically treated with RICES (rice, ice, compression, elevation, stabilization). Once beyond the acute phase of healing, gradual pain-free restoration of range of motion, strength, ankle stability, balance and functionality is addressed in order to facilitate safe return to play.  Improper progression or returning to play too quickly may place the athlete at an increased risk of re-injury.

  1. Concussions

Many parents worry about concussions in their young athletes. While most associate concussions with aggressive contact sports like football, hockey, lacrosse and rugby, this type of injury can also occur in basketball players. Such mechanisms of injury may include a player going up for a rebound and getting elbowed in the head, diving for a loose ball and hitting their head against the court, or during the process of defending or executing a layup if contact is involved. Concussions can be a complicated injury and may require rest, follow up with a physician, as well as a proper plan of care under the guidance of a Physical Therapist that specializes in vestibular rehabilitation for safe return to activity.

  1. ACL Injuries

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL is one of the four main ligaments providing stability to the knee. ACL injuries typically occur in sports that involve quick changes of direction, pivoting, cutting and jumping. Although ACL sprains can be managed conservatively with physical therapy, an ACL tear/rupture requires surgical intervention to reconstruct the torn ligament. It is also important to note that there are multiple predisposing factors (e.g., gender, bony structure, landing mechanics, playing surface) for ACL injuries. Athletes can take steps to reduce the risk of ACL injuries by engaging in a comprehensive strength and conditioning program.

  1. Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries such as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), Jumper’s knee/patellar tendinitis, shin splints and stress fractures tend to develop over the course of a season. Many athletes are hesitant to bring up injuries to their coaches because they don’t want to miss playing time. That being said, overuse injuries tend to get worse as the season progresses. This is because overuse injuries can be linked to repetitive jumping, hip/ankle weakness, muscle imbalances (e.g. quad dominance), and running/playing/practicing while not allowing for a proper rest and recovery period. Because of this, coaches and parents should encourage young athletes to speak up when they are feeling unusual pain and discomfort.

  1. Apophyseal Injuries

Apophyseal injuries are specific to the pediatric population. These types of injuries occur at sites where tendons attach to bony prominences and include inflammation and soreness to avulsion fractures. Common sites of apophyseal injuries in youth basketball players include the calcaneus/heel (Sever’s disease) and the tibial tuberosity/shin (Osgood-Schlatter’s disease). Apophyseal injuries are typically associated with skeletal immaturity, flexibility deficits, repeated trauma (e.g. repetitive jumping and running) and muscle imbalances. Conservative treatment is usually effective in managing such conditions, making physical therapy an excellent treatment option.

The Importance of Injury Prevention

Injury prevention is important because it lessens potential healthcare costs and keepsathletico300x250 athletes playing their respective sports at a high level. As such, many chronic and even some acute injuries may be mitigated or prevented through a proper “pre-hab” exercise program along with incorporating a sport-specific warm up routine. For example, youth basketball players may benefit from balance training, dynamic and static stretching, hip/ankle stability exercises, as well as strengthening of the core and lower extremities.

Should an injury linger, further follow up with a physician and formal physical therapy treatment may be the best route for optimal outcomes.

Athletico also provides complimentary injury screens at a location near you. Click here to get started.

Stronger than Yesterday: Setting Strength Training Goals

By Kirstie Chase for Athletico

A New Year can be unpredictable, but setting authentic goals combined with genuine pursuit can usher in the kinds of change and inspiration you are seeking. If becoming stronger and more confident are goals you have in mind, this post has tips to make it happen!

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As mentioned in the first post of this series (#Stronger than Yesterday: Why Should I Strength Train?), building physical strength is a profoundly effective route to increasing overall health. Unfortunately, success does not happen overnight. Achieving your healthiest self is a process, and the initial steps call for a mindset of growth, defining success and setting goals.

Attitude will affect behavior. Attitude plays a pivotal role in reaching fitness goals.1 Beginning and continued strength training is heavily influenced by upholding a positive mindset. This is a thoughtful process. It is important to reflect upon your attitude toward strength training. A positive attitude will increase the likelihood that you will stick to your goals.1

For instance, it is important to acknowledge there will likely be barriers to deal with when setting a goal. Lack of time is one of the biggest barriers people attribute to not being able to exercise.2 Understanding barriers you may be up against is a great way to begin cultivating a mindset for change. Ask yourself the following questions to gauge your attitude about setting new strength training goals:

  1. What is appealing about strength training?
  2. What am I hoping to accomplish?
  3. What benefits will I receive from committing to my strength training goals?

Defining success also defines action. Goal orientation is another valuable component in goal setting. The way in which you define success will dictate the actions you take to reach success.3

It is important that goals are rooted in acquiring new skills, learning and self-improvement. Goals oriented in this way lead to greater satisfaction and achievement in exercise. It is also important to view individualized strength goals as a process toward becoming the best version of yourself. In doing so you will continue to develop an attitude that believes improvement is possible and that you can become stronger. Ask yourself the following questions about the orientation of your strength training goals:

  1. How will I define success in my strength training goal?
  2. What new skills do I want to learn as I work toward this goal?

Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. With any new fitness goal it is important to concretely define the specifics to increase the likelihood of success. Setting your goals using the “S.M.A.R.T.” strategy allows you to consider the details of your training.4 Each goal should be:

Specific – A specific goal should have an outline detailing what it is. The more specific the better!

Measurable – Tracking progress can be in the amount of sets, weight lifted or days committed to lifting. Goals become easier to reach when success is measurable.

Attainable – It is important that strength training goals are within your reach. A goal set too high will be extreme, a goal set too low will be something you know you can do easily. An attainable goal should fall somewhere in the middle!

Relevant – Any goal put in place should have importance to your life as it is now. Trying to achieve someone else’s strength training goal can have detrimental effects to progression.

Timely – Goals need an end-point. Giving your goal a timeline adds accountability to your strength training routine!

Healthier Habits Start with Goals

Physical success in the gym is proceeded by positive attitudes and smart goals. Ifathletico300x250 beginning a new strength training program is your goal in the New Year, it is important to start with the mind so the body can follow. Getting strong is much more than picking up heavy weights. Building long-lasting healthy habits starts with a mindset of growth.

If you want to learn more about strength training, schedule an appointment at an Athletico near you.

Click to Request an Appointment Today

Stronger than Yesterday: Why Should I Strength Train?

By  Kirstie Chase for Athletico

Fads are common in the fitness world, just think of Richard Simmons videos, Boflex infomercials and Shake Weights as examples. Some fitness fads, however, can stand the test of time.

Recently there has been increased popularity in strength training. This type of exercise,strength-train which is also referred to as resistance training, is designed to improve muscular fitness as the muscles generate force against external stimuli.1 Unlike other fitness fads, strength training is timeless because it helps to preserve and maintain healthy muscle.
Once thought to be an activity for athletes, strength training is now recommended as a safe and effective way to improve health. What’s more, anyone can benefit from this type of exercise regimen – be it male or female, novice or professional, young or old.2

Principles of Strength Training

Although it can seem overwhelming to set new health and wellness goals, this blog (and the two in this series to follow) aims to provide clarity and tips in strength training for a healthy year and a healthier you. Before getting started with a new strength training program, it is important to understand a few simple principles that lead to incredible health benefits.

  1. Progressive Overload – This principle refers to exercising the body to a level beyond which it is accustomed. Strength and growth occur when the muscles are progressively challenged to do more.3
  • If someone can bicep curl a 10 pound dumbbell for 10 reps with ease, they can either increase the amount of weight or reps to add an overload in this activity. It is advised to increase weight or reps one at a time, rather than both simultaneously.
  1. Specificity – This principle implies that an exercise must be specific to the muscles involved to improve strength in those muscles. Adaptations will occur due to the specific nature of the exercise.3
  • If someone wants to increase their upper body strength for pull-ups and push-ups they must do those exercises, or others that target the muscles involved. For instance, they will not improve upper body strength by running or cycling.
  1. Reversibility – This third principle states the improvements can be lost or reduced when the overload is removed or the specificity is changed.3
  • If someone stops resistance training they will see a reduction in their strength abilities. What’s more, if this person changes their specific goals they will also see a change in adaptations as well.

Health Benefits of Strength Training

The three aforementioned principles represent the basis on which strength develops. Becoming a stronger and healthier version of yourself requires progression and specificity to avoid reversibility. Creating a strength goal with these concepts in mind is a great way to form a base in your training. Since growth extends beyond lifting heavier weights in a gym setting, your strength goals will lend themselves into everyday health benefits, such as:

  • Combating muscle loss that occurs naturally with age
  • Preventing osteoporosis through muscular development
  • Reductions in body fat and increased lean muscle mass
  • Improvements in metabolic functions
  • Decreased risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension
  • Improved cholesterol
  • Developing neurological functions
  • Increased balance and coordination in movements
  • Reductions in injuries
  • Greater satisfaction and quality of life4

Safety Firstathletico300x250

The body is meant to move and more effective movement comes from developing strength. That said, it is important to keep safety top of mind when exercising in order to prevent injuries. If you do feel unusual aches and pains after working out, make sure to schedule a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico location.

5 Ways to Stop Knee Pain in Runners

By Ryan Domeyer PT, DPT, CMPT for Athletico

Between 20 to 93 percent of runners suffer from knee pain, making it the most common lower extremity injury.  When knee pain occurs, one of the treatment options is physical therapy. Physical therapists are trained to examine, diagnose and treat knee pain to help patients return to the activities they love.

The majority of knee pain associated with running is not caused by direct trauma butknee-pain rather improper loading. Running requires the ability to absorb the weight of the body when the runner’s foot hits the ground in order to propel the runner forward. Although it might not seem like it, running is actually a complicated skill that most people do not actively practice prior to their recreational run. Knee pain can start during a run, but most commonly is experienced after running longer distances. Research shows the more miles you run the higher risk of sustaining a knee injury. The most common causes of knee pain in runners are iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, chondromalacia patella (runners knee) and patellar tendon pain.

It is common for runners to treat their knee pain with rest and ice and hope it goes away on its own. Although rest can help during the initial stages of knee pain, there are many ways that runners can take load off their knees and prevent future injuries, including the five listed below:

  1. Improve Hip Flexor and Quadriceps Mobility

Americans spend on average 13 hours per day sitting.1 Sitting for long periods of time during school, work or watching TV causes the front of the hip to shorten, which leads to tightness in the hip flexor and quadricep muscles. Stretching or foam rolling are the most efficient ways to improve hip flexor and quadriceps mobility to lessen knee pain. For more information on stretching and foam rolling, read:

Stretching: It’s All in the Hips Part 3

Foam Rolling: 3 Ways to Roll Away Muscle Tension

  1. Improve Hip Strength

Another adverse effect of sitting during the day is the inefficient use of our gluteal muscles. The gluteal muscles are the largest muscles in the body and when trained properly, can lessen the load on the knee. The easiest way to improve strength of the gluteal muscles is with bodyweight exercises including bridges, planks, side planks, bird dogs and hip abduction raises.

  1. Improve Balance

As previously mentioned, running requires the ability to land on one leg repeatedly to propel the body forward. The knee is the middle connection between the ground and the body. A loss in balance can lead to poor force absorption from the ground with each step taken during running.

To test balance, try standing on one leg without using your arms for 30 seconds. If this is difficult, balance can be improved by practicing. To take this balance exercise a step further, try balancing on one leg without holding onto anything with your eyes closed. If balance continues to be a problem, consider scheduling a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico Physical Therapy.

  1. Improve Core Position and Stability

Another way to improve muscle imbalances is to improve core strength and the ability to run with a neutral spine. To do this, begin your run on the right track with a neutral neck aligned over your shoulders, neutral low back without a large backward curve and feet straight forward. Awareness of your low back and core position is important at the start of a run, as it becomes more difficult to maintain as fatigue sets in.

  1. Increase Number of Steps

Running technique is the most significant way to decrease the load on the knee to prevent or improve an injury. A simple way to improve technique is by increasing the number of steps taken. Although it may seem counterintuitive to take more steps, this will prevent a poor foot strike position and set the body in a good position to fall forwardathletico300x250 rather than absorb the force.

If you need help with running technique, request a video gait analysis at Athletico, which provides real-time audio and visual feedback on your running style. This will enable your physical therapist to provide feedback that not only helps improve efficiency, but also helps to prevent injuries.

Click to Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen

Dry Needling: Targeted Treatment for Pain Reduction

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All patients with any kind of pain problem will benefit from dry needling. This innovative pain treatment can be used to treat a variety of diagnoses including:

  • Headaches / Migraines
  • Neck pain
  • Lateral and medial Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome
  • Low back pain
  • ITB syndrome
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Greater trochanteric bursitis
  • Hamstring strain
  • Groin strain
  • Ankle sprain Plantar Fasciitis
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skinathletico300x250 and release underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.  Dry needling (DN) is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue, and, diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input, and reduce or restore impairments of body structure and function leading to improved activity and participation.