Stay Safe and Perform Better – ACL Prevention Program

ACL

A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to dust off my golf clubs and go to the driving range. I hit 100 golf balls with four different clubs, and all of them went the same distance. I know that isn’t how it’s supposed to work, but hey, I never said I was good at golf. I just have the dream of hitting a hole in one, so I looked up the odds and it is about a one in 3,500 chance. Given that I can’t hit the ball like a pro, or even a good amateur, my dream will probably never happen, but I’m always going to prepare for the day by striking the ball whenever I get a chance.

From an odds standpoint, one in 3,500 is about .02 percent, which is a long shot, but accounts for approximately 100,000 people this year in the United States. These odds are the same as the possibility of tearing your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). For the same reasons I go out year after year and practice hoping for a par, I’d encourage you to make a small effort to work on lowering your chances of tearing an ACL with an ACL prevention program.

ACL prevention programs have been created and mixed into teams warm-ups, cool downs and off-season lift programs and have been shown to be helpful. Research shows 75 to 85 percent less ACL injuries happen when athletes are on an ACL program. Programs are usually three-times per week and take about 30 to 45 minutes to perform or, in my experience, about 15 to 20 minutes of additional work onto the normal warm-up and cool down of a team sport. It’s no guarantee that you won’t tear your ACL, but if you can practice for your sport to get better, why not make a small investment in making sure you can potentially avoid a nine- to 12-month rehabilitation process, too?

A simple ACL program looks something like this:

  • Warm-up
  • Jogging – Two minutes forward, two minutes backward and two minutes of side shuffling
  • Stretching – Thirty seconds on each of these muscle groups:
    • Calf
    • Quad
    • Hamstring
    • Groin
    • Glute
    • Hip flexor

This should look similar to a basic high school gym class warm-up.

Agility Drills – During agility drills, look to maintain your balance. Have your knee stay behind your toes and do not allow your knee to sway toward the opposite side of your body.

  • Bend over and touch a ball on the ground in front of you 10 times.
  • Balance on one leg in a mini squat for 60 to 90 seconds while dribbling a basketball, playing catch or trying to kicking a soccer ball.

At this point, we added approximately five minutes to your warm-up, and you should be ready to perform your normal practice, pick-up game or workout.

Strength Portion – After your workout, perform strength exercises that reinforce proper mechanics of jumping and landing and help you control your body while you’re tired. Most injuries happen to people when they are tired or near the end of a game because they lose focus on controlling their body.

During this strength portion, you should be looking to stay focused, keep your knees from going toward each other during the landing and land softly and on the balls of your feet.

  • Squat jumps with two second hold at the landing 10 times
  • Tuck jumps 20 times
  • Lateral jumps 10 times each side
  • Lunge 10 times each side
  • Plank two times for 30 seconds front and each side

Cool Down – Perform your normal cool down or a nice foam rolling session.

An ACL prevention program doesn’t guarantee you won’t tear your ACL any more than me hitting the driving range three times per week to help fix my golf swing will guarantee me a hole in one, but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to go out and try. I encourage you to take a few extra minutes to help prevent an ACL injury, and I hope your extra work is fruitful to your sports performance and ACL injury prevention.

By: Bryce Vorters, M.S., ATC, LAT. Bryce is the head athletic trainer with NovaCare Rehabilitation 

Common Workout Myths

By Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP for Athletico Physical Therapy

truth about workout myths

Fitness and workout tips are everywhere: They can be found in magazines, TV shows, online articles, and even come within advice from friends. However, each tip seems to be different – sometimes even a contradiction of a different piece of health advice. To help you sort the fact from the fiction, read below to learn some common workout myths and truths that can help you have better, healthier and safer workouts.

1. Myth: Cardio Burns the Most Calories

Truth: If you want to burn more calories overall, and keep burning it after your workout is over, weight training needs to be incorporated into your routine. Weight training or strength training has been shown to keep you burning calories afterward due to post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).2 Cardio exercise is needed to keep your heart healthy, but if calorie burn is your goal, don’t forget the resistance training.1,2

2. Myth: Stretching Is Best Before Working Out

Truth: Warming up with cardio before a workout is much more effective than stretching. It will get your blood flowing and warm up your muscles, which helps to prevent injury.3 A short burst of cardiovascular exercise such as riding a bike for five minutes or jogging in place is an easy way to start a work out. Dynamic stretching is good before a workout as well. Dynamic stretching is also known as “active stretching” where the muscle is being moved through its range and usually this is a range needed for the activity after the warm-up. Static stretching, which refers to when a stretch is held in place for a short amount of time, is better for improving flexibility and may be more beneficial after a workout.3

3. Myth: Weight Lifting Will Bulk You Up

Truth: Many people wrongly assume that lifting weights will make you bulk up, which they may not be interested in. Lifting either light weights or heavier weights can result in increased strength and muscle endurance.4 The idea of “bulking up,” such as bodybuilders do, is achieved usually through hours of lifting coupled with a diet designed to build muscle mass. The average person may see benefits of lifting like feeling stronger and looking more toned.

4. Myth: It’s Too Late/I’m Too Old To Get In Shape

Truth: It’s never too late to begin a healthier routine. There is no age limit on the body’s ability to gain strength. If you don’t exercise at all, start by walking 5 to 10 minutes a day, gradually increasing the time and adding in strength training as your tolerance increases.

5. Myth: You Need A Gym Membership To Get Results

Truth: You don’t need a gym membership or major equipment to work out. A yoga mat, a couple lightweight dumbbells, resistance band, or even a chair, is all that is needed to get a full-body workout at home. There are even many exercises that require no equipment at all, like squats and planks.

6. Myth: “No Pain, No Gain”

Truth: Some muscle soreness is to be expected during a workout, especially if you’re trying a new exercise or lifting a heavier weight. However if you’re in serious pain, stop what you’re doing. It doesn’t mean you’re working harder or getting stronger, it usually indicates injury may be occurring. Generally, workouts should be relatively pain free, but you may feel fatigue during a workout or muscle soreness after a workout.

If you do experience lingering pain after a workout, make sure to schedule a complimentary injury screen at your nearest Athletico location.

Request a Complimentary Injury Screen

5 Ways Movement Enhances A Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis

By Erica Hornthal, MA, LCPC, BC-DMT; CEO Chicago Dance Therapy

Related image

I’m not here to tell you why exercise or a certain type of activity like dance or yoga, is beneficial.  Anyone can type “PD and exercise” into Google and read one of 63 million results. What I would like to share are the psychosocial implications that arise from engaging in movement.  How movement enhances our emotional, social, and cognitive well-being is imperative following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

Movement, our earliest form of communication, seems to be taken for granted only until we see it deteriorate or are faced with a degenerative disease that reminds us that our movements are so much more.  They are a connection to ourselves and our environment. Engaging in movement is not just about maintaining our physicality, but about preserving our existence.


Assists in symptom management: Research has shown that movement can help manage problems with gait, balance, tremors, flexibility, and coordination.  Improved mobility has been shown to decrease the risk of falling as well as other complications from PD. This often occurs because the brain is learning to use dopamine more efficiently.  

Promotes self-awareness and identity: Every person has a different way of moving and certain affinities toward movement.  It is those differences that promote a capacity for introspection and the ability to stand out as an individual.  Muscle memory even has the ability to tap into memories stored in the brain. Movement has the ability to retain our memories and create new ones.  

Maintains a sense of control: Connection to our breath, the most primitive form of movement, enables us to control our pulse rate, circulation, and even our thoughts.  This is so important for when we feel like things are out of our control or when our body is not functioning the way we would like, we have the power through our own breath to take back a sense of control.  

Builds psychological resilience: Movement has the ability to actually increase our adaptability to stress and adversity.  Reinforcing our own connection to the body empowers our psyche and encourages inner core strength.  This core I’m referring to isn’t your abdominals, but rather your identity. Connecting to the muscles in your chest, torso, and pelvis tap into your belief system, identity formation, and personality.

Maintains social connections: From early on in human existence, there is documentation of celebration and rejoicing through song and movement.  Movement has the ability to connect us with others without verbal communication. We can join in someone’s experience just by witnessing and empathically embracing their body language.


These 5 ways in which movement enhances our mind body connection are just the tip of the iceberg.  Movement is more than just exercise and physical fitness. Movement is body language, expression, and creativity.  Movement is an innate part of being human and just because that ability changes when diagnosed with PD, that does not mean that we should give up all that it entails.  It is even more imperative that we engage in movement to preserve that very part of who we.

Erica Hornthal is a licensed professional clinical counselor and board certified dance/movement therapist. She received her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago and her BS in psychology from University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.  

Erica is the founder and president of North Shore Dance Therapy and Chicago Dance Therapy. As a psychotherapist in private practice, Erica specializes in working with older adults who are diagnosed with dementia and movement disorders. Her work has been highlighted nationally in Social Work Magazine, Natural Awakenings, and locally in the Chicago Tribune as well as on WCIU and WGN.  


Parkinson’s Awareness Month: #StartAConversation

Every April, the Parkinson’s Foundation engages the global Parkinson’s community to support Parkinson’s Awareness Month. When we raise awareness about Parkinson’s and how the Foundation helps make lives better for people with PD, we can do more together to improve care and advance research toward a cure.

The Importance of Strengthening the Gymnast’s Elbow

By Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP for Atletico Physical Therapy

strengthening gymnasts elbowGymnastics offers a unique perspective, even allowing some athletes to see the world upside down!

Very few sports involve supporting the entire body weight with the arms like gymnastics. Due to these special considerations, gymnasts are more prone to certain injuries, such as Osteochondritis Dissecans of the elbow (OCD), and should take care to strengthen the entire arm to decrease injury risk.

What is OCD Elbow?

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) lesions can be found in the elbows of adolescent athletes. The exact cause of OCD in the elbow is unknown, but repetitive microtrauma and decreased blood flow to the subchondral bone are believed to play a role. As the underlying bone weakens, a segment of the articular cartilage separates from the subchondral bone, forming a lesion. OCD lesions in gymnasts may be caused by repetitive weight bearing on the hands with the elbow in extension.

Presentation of elbow OCD is very vague. A patient can have pain, tenderness and swelling over the lateral aspect of the elbow. There may be limitation in how straight the elbow can go and there may be locking or catching if the injury has progressed. However, tendinitis of the elbow can have a similar presentation. More often OCD is suspected in specific patient populations including pre-teen and teenage gymnasts as well as young baseball pitchers with elbow pain. Diagnosis is through imaging such as x-ray or MRI.

Treatment for OCD Elbow

Non-operative treatment for elbow OCD consists of rest and sports restriction. For a gymnast that means no weight bearing on arms and no hanging from bars or rings as the latter puts traction stress through the elbow. Muscle strengthening exercises and possibly a short period of immobilization are also usually a part of treatment.

There are some cases where the lesion is unstable and surgery is the best option. After surgery, physical therapy is performed to reduce pain, swelling and restore range of motion. Resistance strengthening is also incorporated into the rehabilitation after bone healing has occurred, usually around 8 weeks after surgery.

What Can Athletes Do While Resting Their Elbow?

If a gymnast has been diagnosed with an OCD lesion, they are not allowed to do any weight bearing on the arm, which includes performing skills on the bars. So what can the gymnast do as they allow their elbow to heal? Core strengthening is one option, as core strength is vital to a gymnast and is important during all events. Leg strengthening can also be performed while adhering to the restrictions on the elbow. An overall conditioning program can be designed for the athlete that will incorporate cardio, core strengthening, leg strengthening, shoulder and wrist strengthening, and flexibility stretching. Staying active and in shape is vital to the gymnast during this time to assist in returning to the sport when the elbow restrictions are lifted.

Arm Strengthening for Gymnasts

The elbow is the middle joint of the arm with the shoulder and wrist on either side. While the gymnast’s elbow is healing, it is important to strengthen both of the surrounding joints to provide extra stability for the arm for when return to weight bearing is allowed. Prior to initiating any activities, ensure the gymnasts’ physician has cleared them for return to these exercises.

            Shoulder strengthening examples:

  • Resistance band exercises including rows, shoulder extension, diagonals, internal/external rotation
  • Sidelying shoulder external rotation
  • Tricep extension with band or hand weight
  • Bicep curls with band or hand weight
  • Prone I, T, Y exercises – exercises can be performed using a swiss ball for added core activation, hand weights can be added for resistance
  • Gradual return to weight bearing exercises, like push-ups, planks and handstands, can be added when the athlete is cleared from restrictions

            Wrist strengthening examples:

  • Wrist curls in both directions with a weight or resistance band
  • Gripping exercises for the hands
  • Wrist rotation exercises, such as hand weight rolling
  • Supination/Pronation with a hand weight

Arm Stretching for Gymnasts

  • Wrist flexor stretch
  • Wrist extensor stretch
  • Cross body shoulder stretch
  • Tricep stretch
  • Shoulder flexion stretch on foam roller, wall, or mats
  • Shoulder circles – lie on your side on the floor and draw a circle on the floor with your top arm by rotating your upper body
  • Doorway stretch

Strengthening the Upper Body

Gymnasts have special considerations due to the nature of their sport with weight bearing on the arms. This can lead to injuries of the elbow such as OCD lesions. Strengthening of the entire upper body, including shoulder and wrists, should be incorporated into a conditioning program for both healthy gymnasts and gymnasts recovering from an elbow injury.

For more information, contact an Athletico clinic close to you for a complimentary injury screening.

Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen

10 Reasons To Go For A Walk Right Now

On an average day, 30 percent of American adults walk for exercise and with good reason. Walking doesn’t require special equipment or athletic skills, yet it offers a host of health benefits — from helping you lose weight and lifting your mood to controlling diabetes and lowering your blood pressure. In fact, a study published in the journal PLoS Medicine showed that adding 150 minutes of brisk walking to your routine each week can add 3.4 years to your lifespan.

Here are 10 surprising ways to use walking to boost your health, along with tips to make starting and sticking to a walking routine more fun.

1. Walk to Manage Your Weight
Avoiding weight gain might be as simple as taking a walk. Researchers at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston followed more than 34,000 normal-weight women for more than 13 years. They found that, over time, the women who ate a standard diet and walked for an hour a day (or did some other similar moderate-activity exercise) were able to successfully maintain their weight.

Fun fitness tip: Buddy up for fitness — walk with a friend, neighbor, or a four-legged pal. A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that dog-owners walked more each week and were more likely to reach the recommended levels of physical activity than those who do not own dogs.

2. Walk to Get Blood Pressure in Line
A heart-pumping walking routine can help lower your blood pressure, studies show. A study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that moderate-intensity walking was just as effective as jogging at lowering risk of high blood pressure.

Fun fitness tip: Can’t find a full 30 minutes to walk? Spread it out throughout your day — 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there will add up if you stick with it. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, breaking your workout into several shorter workouts throughout the day is just as effective as one longer workout session, while also making it easier to fit exercise into your schedule.

3. Walk to Protect Against Dementia
Walking, which improves cerebral blood flow and lowers the risk of vascular disease, may help you stave off dementia, the cognitive loss that often comes with old age. According to the 2014 World Alzheimer’s Report, regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat the onset and advancement of the disease. In addition, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh conducted brain scans on seniors and found that walking at least six miles a week was linked to less brain shrinkage.

Fun fitness tip: Download upbeat music you love to listen to on your iPod, and take it with you while you walk. An analysis conducted by the American Council on Exercise found that music not only makes exercise more enjoyable, but it can also boost endurance and intensity.

4. Walk to Prevent Osteoarthritis
Walking is a great form of weight-bearing exercise, which helps prevent the bone-thinning condition osteoporosis, as well as osteoarthritis, the degenerative disease that causes joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found that people who participated in moderate aerobic activities such as walking have the healthiest knees because walking can help maintain healthy cartilage.

Fun fitness tip: Reward yourself. After you stick to your new walking routine for a few weeks, treat yourself to a new pair of shoes, a manicure, or something else that will keep you motivated.

5. Walk to Reduce Cancer Risk
Walking may reduce your chances of developing some cancers. Research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that women who walked at least seven hours per week were 14 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. Similarly, a study conducted by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco and Harvard University, found that men who were treated for prostate cancer and who walked briskly at least three hours a week reduced their chances of a recurrence.

Fun fitness tip: Explore. Try a new route around the neighborhood, pick a different trail at the park, or go walking in a new location altogether to keep it interesting.

6. Walk to Prevent or Control Diabetes
Brisk walking can help prevent and manage diabetes. “A 20- to 30-minute walk can help lower blood sugar for 24 hours,” says Tami Ross, RD, LD, a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Plus, The Diabetes Prevention Program, a major government study, found that even a small weight loss — for example, 10 to 15 pounds for a 200-pound person — can delay and possibly prevent the onset of the disease. Adding a brisk walk to your daily routine is one of the easiest ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Fun fitness tip: Dress for the occasion. A good pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothes that are easy to move in are essential for a successful workout.

7. Walk to Lower Your Heart Disease Risk
Walking may help lower your cholesterol and, in turn, your risk for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, walking just 30 minutes per day can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. And since regular walking can keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check, it is a great way to boost your overall heart health.

Fun fitness tip: Challenge yourself to walk more steps every day and make fitness more fun, by using a pedometer or other fitness tracking device to chart your progress. You can set new step goals each week and even join challenges with friends and family to motivate yourself to get moving.

8. Walk to Improve Your Mood
A brisk walk can boost your mood and may even help you treat depression. A Portuguese study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that depressed adults who walked for 30 to 45 minutes five times a week for 12 weeks showed marked improvements in their symptoms when medication alone did not help.

Fun fitness tip: Get outdoors! When the weather permits, take your walk outside, for a dose of vitamin D and an even bigger mood boost. Research published in the journal Ecopsychology revealed that group walks in nature were associated with significantly lower depression and perceived stress, as well as enhanced mental well-being.

9. Walk to Reduce Pain
It might seem counterintuitive, but to reduce pain from arthritis, start moving. Research shows that walking one hour per day can help reduce arthritis pain and prevent disability. The study, published in Arthritis Care & Research, determined that 6,000 steps was the threshold that predicted who would go on to develop disabilities or not. Plus, a recent study found that walking significantly improved mobility loss among patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition where clogged arteries in the legs can cause pain and fatigue while walking.

Fun fitness tip: Add some healthy competition to your walk. As you move down the sidewalk or trail, imagine the people in front of you are rungs on a ladder. Then, focus on walking fast enough to overtake them one by one.

10. Walk to Reduce Stroke Risk
A large, long-term study reported in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association, found that women who walked at a brisk pace for exercise had a much lower chance of having a stroke than those who didn’t walk. Researchers credit this to walking’s ability to help lower high blood pressure, which is a strong risk factor for stroke.

Fun fitness tip: Join or start a regular walking club with friends or coworkers and make fun fitness plans for your outings. Recent research published in the British Journal of Sports and Medicine found that participants were enthusiastic, less tense and generally more relaxed after regular, organized walking groups.

By Beth W. Orenstein for Huffington Post