Welcome to the #LifeCantWait Blog, SPEAR Physical Therapy’s official stream for fitness tips, exercise advice, and healthy lifestyle inspiration. Our articles and features are written by our physical therapists and staff members with your progress in mind. Designed to educate and motivate, SPEAR’s #LifeCantWait Blog exists to share your stories and help you get back to life! Disclaimer
Physical therapists Jamie Bredahl (left) and Martin del Prado (right) are ready for the games to begin!
Each year, Squash enthusiasts and fans turn to watch some of the world’s greatest Squash players compete at J.P.Morgan’s Tournament of Champions. This year, once again SPEAR was honored to be the official physical therapy providers of the event! The tournament ran from Jan 9th-17th at world-famous Grand Central Terminal here in New York City, an ideal location for an event with such buzzing energy!
Treating physical therapists Michelle Rooney and Ryan Coye
An active and intense sport, Squash requires plenty of focus, skill, and athletic ability. Physical therapy not only promotes exceptional performance, but also keeps the body in tip-top shape by helping to prevent injury. Our team was more than eager to help out these incredible athletes. Many of our physical therapists offered their time and services to standby in the sidelines, setting up stations to administer treatment to players as needed. The program was led by Dave Endres, Physical Therapist, Co-founder of SPEAR, and Squash enthusiast and player himself! Dave has played numerous professional squash tournaments throughout the Northeast, and even worked as a teaching pro in NYC. Physical therapist Greg Moy also provided valuable insight on injury prevention for Squash players of all levels with a take-home guide of helpful tips, featured in the tournament’s program.
Dave Endres, PT, MS, and SPEAR Co-founder, preps youth Squash athletes prior to the start of the screening
Young athletes putting in the work during a guided warm-up!
The pro athletes weren’t the only ones benefiting from physical therapy that day: SPEAR hosted a screening for youth squash players as well! We partnered with two incredible organizations: CitySquash, a not-for-profit organization based in the Bronx and Brooklyn helping motivate young people from economically disadvantaged households fulfill their academic, athletic and personal potential; and StreetSquash, an organization providing consistent and reliable support to the children, families and schools in Harlem and Newark. At the screening, the youth athletes learned best practices from our PTs for proper preparation before playing, with specific warm-ups and exercises to do at home. Hosting the screening during such a momentous tournament was extra special for these promising young athletes, serving as a reminder that they, too, could one day be out on the court, competing for world titles and accolades. We’re honored to play a part in their developing journey in achieving greatness, and doing so in a safe manner!
We love partnering with this championship because we truly believe in the sport and what it represents: dedication and hard work are the foundational building blocks of success. Not to mention, it’s incredibly fun to play! We look forward to participating in future Squash events and tournaments to come!
Whether you’re a novice beginner or a seasoned long-distance runner, shopping for running attire can be a daunting task. With so many options, it may be difficult to determine the best options. Have no fear: our resident running expert is here! We sat down with Carley Schleien, PT, DPT, for a quick Q&A session to point you in the right direction during your next shopping trip— save this Quick Tip Guide for reference on-the-go!
What should I look for when choosing a running shoe?
Running shoes can be one of the most difficult and confusing items to purchase. Many types of shoes exist, ranging from neutral ones, to stiffer shoes, to more minimalist pairs. The most important factor to consider is comfort! Overall, running shoes should support the foot and allow the runner’s muscles to naturally engage and activate properly, rather than trying to do the jobs and functions of those muscles.
It is recommended to try on the shoe at the store and walk around; if simply walking around in them is uncomfortable, it is best not to purchase that particular shoe. You should also consider a shoe with a minimal heel drop (6 millimeters or less). Neutral components are most beneficial for runners, as they will allow you to use a more natural running gait pattern.
For a more in-depth recommendation, there are running shoe companies and stores that offer mini analyses to evaluate your running gait. A store associate can then better propose specific shoe types based on your results.
What kind of clothing is best to wear?
There are a wide variety of clothing companies that manufacture running attire, including shirts, sports bras, shorts, leggings, and socks. Runners should attempt to try clothing on prior to running in them to ensure they feel comfortable, which is individualized to each runner. You’ll have the most success when you feel comfortable on your runs!
Are there additional items runners should be wearing at night (for visibility)?
Running shirts and jackets commonly come with reflective gear that is handy to use when running at night. Since the sun sets earlier in the winter, many runners will be running in the dark. It is vital to wear reflective gear when running at night to ensure that drivers and other pedestrians see you. Some runners even run with headlamps or flashlights as additional tools to notify others of their presence.
What can I wear to keep my things safe (keys/wallet/etc)?
Many products exist to help runners keep their valuables safe while running. Runners often choose between wearing a running armband phone sleeve or a running belt around their waist. Both types of products frequently come with pockets and compartments to store your keys, money, etc., and many belts come with sleeves that allow you to hook on your water bottle.
Is a fitness tracker worth utilizing?
Fitness trackers can be especially valuable when preparing and training for a timed or distance race. Runners may benefit from being able to record the length of their runs, their distances, and their pace. Trackers range in sophistication and can include features such as displaying heart rates, altitude/elevation gains, temperature, etc. There are also apps that runners can download on their phones to track pace, distance, and other metrics.
What additional items may be beneficial for runners at different levels?
One of the most important things to focus on while running is hydration. Runners should ensure that they have access to water while running, whether it’s carrying a water bottle or stopping at water fountains spaced throughout their run outdoors. When completing long distance runs, runners should also ensure proper nutrition with gel packs and energy gels in order to ensure proper electrolyte balance throughout the body.
Yoga is a very popular practice, and a growing trend over the past few years. A google search for ‘yoga classes’ in the New York City area alone yields plenty of results, from nearby classes to online tutorials you can follow along with at home. Originating from India, this form of exercise combines a physical and mental practice to bring harmony and stress relief. And with many types of yoga to choose from, including Hatha, Bikram, Astanga and more, it’s no wonder it’s taken off ! While yoga can be super beneficial, it can also cause issues or pain if not done properly. Phaeleau Cunneen, PT, CHT, OCS, shares his professional advice to ensure you’re practicely yoga safely to get the most out of your practice:
Pay Attention to Quality
Yoga has exploded in popularity and with that increase, many new yoga teachers have also come onto the scene, some with more experience than others. The quality of instruction, then, has been diluted a bit, so make sure you are working with an experienced and highly rated instructor. Don’t be afraid to speak to your instructor and find out more about their training and education.
Many yoga classes can be overcrowded, so that the instruction and attention to detail and form you receive is less than ideal. Try to find a yoga class with less students, or enough that you are able to receive some attention to your form as you practice.
You Don’t Have To Be The Valedictorian of Yoga
We are experiencing the rise of a fitness culture where more and more people want to be pushed beyond their limits by instructors, whether it be through P90X, CrossFit, boot camps, or tough mudders. While it’s admirable to want to push your personal limits, you should understand that safe (and effective) training takes time.
Many of us are walking around with slight disc bulges, even disc herniation. They are not always symptomatic, but that doesn’t mean that they are not there. Before practicing Yoga, consult a physical therapist to have your body mechanics evaluated. This way you can understand your body’s limits and any underlying conditions you may have. This will not only help your Yoga practice, but will also help you train up to the more challenging poses safely.
Most of us spend most of day with our neck in a forward head position – staring at a computer, looking down at our phone or iPad. The neck is in a flexed position for the majority of our waking hours. The after work we rush to class and go into a shoulder stand! The shoulder stand exerts extreme amount of posterior forces on the cervical spine.
Listen to Your Body
If you develop chronic pain from any form of exercise, stop! Don’t “suck it up” or listen to “no pain no gain” chants in your head. Do not continue doing something that is hurting your body because of peer pressure or because everyone else you know does it and it helps them.
Serious injuries can occur in any sport from improper form, improper supervision, poor strength and flexibility, and performing a stance or exercise that your body is not ready for.
Phaeleau’s Bottom Line: Although yoga benefits millions, it can lead to injury if you have an unknown preexisting condition, weakness to key stabilizers of the neck and shoulders, poor posture, and or poor flexibility. Listen to your body; it is smarter than you think it is. Chronic pain is often your body trying to tell you something. Your friendly neighborhood physical therapist can help translate!
In today’s modern work environment, it is common practice to spend many hours sitting down at a desk. Prolonged periods in one position can cause strain on the body, and even lead to headaches, neck pain, carpal tunnel, and more. It’s essential to have a proper ergonomic set up for your chair, keyboard, mouse, and any other items you use frequently. Positioning your body in optimum alignment decreases your risk for developing symptoms of overuse, and will promote productivity!
Created with the help from expert physical therapist Leah Brodfuehrer, PT, DPT, BFR, you can follow this handy infographic to create a comfortable set up at your work place!
Back in October of 2015, Whitney, an avid runner, was at her peak training for the upcoming marathon. After an injury left her unable to run for several months, Whitney longed to get back to the sport she loved. That’s when she found a passionate team of people at SPEAR’s E 84th Street clinic devoted to helping her work through her injuries.
Whitney encountered many physical and mental hurdles on her journey back to life. Through her own perseverance, and with the team supporting her along the way, she began to notice improvements in her progress. “They helped me stick to a plan, have faith in the healing process, and believe that I would be strong enough to race again,” Whitney recalls.
And run again she did! Whitney was able reach her personal goal of running once more—she participated in the Timberman Half Ironman, crossing the finish line with a personal record time of 5 minutes and 33 seconds!
Whitney went from fearing she’d be out of the game for some time, to accomplishing a personal goal. She even went on to participate in the NYC Marathon for the first time, and as she excitedly put it, “race with intention”. Whitney’s physical activity level improved, and so did her mentality. “I know now that injury is just a reminder of that which needs to be strengthened. The SPEAR team has my back and that is a great feeling.”