Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope my physical therapy videos for common injuries and syndromes will help put you on the road to recovery. If you have a question, just ask! Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Gluteus Maximus (Buttocks) Exercises

Since twerking has become the new craze, many people have been asking how to strengthen their gluteus maximus muscles. Seriously though, those booty muscles are very important with almost all of our movements, so it is important to keep them strong.
 
First is a simple squat. Many people end up hurting their knees with this exercise because they are not squatting properly. You want to keep your feet about shoulder width apart, and try to keep your feet flat on the ground throughout the whole movement. Make sure you keep your knees behind your toes so you are engaging your gluteus maximus muscles. Stick your bottom out like you are sitting in a chair, and bring your chest forward. Try to keep equal weight shift through out your feet. You can use your arms for balance. You can start off with a mini squat, and work your way further down as long as you are able to keep proper technique.
 
If that becomes easy, then you can try a single leg squat. You still want to keep proper technique, so if you have to hold onto something for balance do so. If you are squatting and your knee goes way in front of your toes, then you are not ready for the single leg squat. It almost looks like a runner's pose if you are doing it right. Try to keep it smooth, and use your arms for balance.
 
Next is a lunge. It is the same technique with the squat in which you want to keep your knees behind your toes. Make sure your toes on the front and back foot are pointed forward. Try to keep your upper body straight up and down. You don't want to lean forward for this exercise. Bring your back knee straight down, and try not to lunge forward. If that is too hard, you can place a book or block under your back knee, and only go down until your back knee touches it.
 
Now you are going to get onto all fours or in the quadruped position. Try to keep your hands directly underneath your shoulders, and try to keep your back in a straight line, no arching up or down. You can do the exercises two different ways. First you can put your leg straight out behind you, and lift it up and down. You can also bend your knee with your foot facing the ceiling, and push your foot upwards. 
 
The last set of exercises are going to be done on your back. Get into a bridge position where your knees are bent up, we call this hooklying. Then stick one leg out and hold it up. With the other leg, push against the ground to lift your hips up off the ground. This is a single leg bridge. If you can, hold it for 2-3 seconds, and then slowly come back down. No plopping!
 
Happy twerking!
 

Knee Bursitis Stretches & Exercises

I often hear patients tell me they have that bursa. Well everyone has bursas throughout their bodies. A bursa is basically a small fluid filled sac that protects our tendons from rubbing on the bones.  When the bursa becomes inflamed, it swells up, and can become very painful. This is called bursitis. The most common spots for this are the hips, knees, and shoulders. Today I am going to show you some simple stretches and exercises to help with knee bursitis.
 
The main muscles around the knee are the calf muscles, the quad muscles, and the hamstring muscles. The first stretch is going to be a calf stretch. You can use a long towel like a beach towel and roll it up to help with the stretch. Make sure you put it just at the ball of your foot. Not too low and not too high. Keep your leg nice and straight (don't bend the knee), and pull the towel towards you until you feel a stretch. This shouldn't be painful, just tension. Hold for 30 seconds and do it 3 times.  
 
The next stretch is going to be for the hamstrings. You can get a combination stretch with this for your hamstrings and your calf muscles. Keep the towel at the ball of your foot, and lie down on the ground. Keeping your leg straight without bending your knee, pull your leg straight upward and pull your toes towards you to get the calf as well. Hold for 30 seconds and do this 3 times.
 
Now you are going to stretch your quad muscle. You can do this a few different ways. If you don't have a belt or strap close by, you can lie on your side and grab your ankle behind you. Gently pull your foot/ankle towards your bottom. If your thigh is coming forward past your hips, then you are not going to get a good stretch. Try to keep your thigh in alignment with your hips or even slightly behind you. Hold for 30 seconds and do it 3 times. You can use a towel or belt to wrap around your ankle if you are really tight and can't grab your ankle with your hand.
 
It's time for some strengthening exercises now. The first strengthening exercise is a quad set. I like to use a towel or roll as a target, but you don't have to use anything. Take the towel, roll it up, and place it just under your knee. Push your knee downward into the roll like you are trying to straighten your knee as much as you can. Pulling your toes up towards you helps straighten your knee. Hold this for 3-5 seconds and do 10-15 of them, and do 2-3 sets.
 
Next is a straight leg raise (SLR). Lie down on your back, and bend one knee up. Straighten out the leg you want to exercise. Pull your toes toward you to help lock out the knee. Just lift your leg to the height of your bended knee. There is no need to kick your leg way up in the air, and it actually takes away from the exercise. Make sure you are slow and controlled with this exercise. Going fast and using momentum will not be effective. If you get to 20-25 and it is easy, then you can add weights if you have them.
 
Finally, you are going to turn onto your side. This is to strengthen your hip abductors. The leg you want to work is going to be on top, and the bottom leg can be slightly bent for comfort. You want to use the same technique where you keep your leg straight, and you pull your toes toward you to lock out the knee. Try to keep your leg in a straight line with your body keeping your hip up and perpendicular with the ground. Again, use controlled movements, and you don't have to kick your leg way up in the air. If you get to 20-25 and it is easy, then you can add weights if you have them.
 

Shoulder Rehab with The Rotater

The Rotater is a very simple yet effective piece of equipment that was sent to me by Chris, aka The Head Evangelist for The Rotater. I had shoulder surgery back in November, and the Rotater really helped me get the extra range of motion I needed in my recovery.  
 
The Rotater has a strap where you can lock your wrist into place, and it has a nook where you place your elbow. It holds it tight into place, so you have to keep your arm in the correct position. I am going to show you just a few stretches and exercises that really helped me, but if you decide you want to get one, it comes with a DVD that shows you a whole bunch of different ways to stretch and exercise your shoulder. Make sure you discuss this with your physician and PT to make sure you are ready to use the Rotater. I was at the point in my rehab where I was cleared to use it.
 
One of the great things that the Rotater does is it keeps your arm in the correct position. Many times when people are stretching and exercising with shoulder rotation, they pop their elbow out, and don't get the maximum benefit. It also allows you to rotate your shoulder without having to rotate your whole body. This makes the stretch much more effective.
 
The first stretch is for external rotation. With your forearm out to your side in a perpendicular position to your body, take the handle and push it towards the other side. Just like any stretch, you can hold it there for 30 seconds, or you can do a continuous stretch and go back and forth 10-15 times.
 
Another direction for external rotation is the stop sign position. This time your forearm and hand should be pointed upwards with your shoulder and elbow at a 90-degree angle. This time push the handle upwards and your shoulder will rotate backwards.
 
The next one is for internal rotation. This is very important for us ladies because we need that internal rotation to clasp our bras behind us! Put your forearm and hand into a downward position now, and the Rotater and handle will be on top. Now push the handle down and inward to help push your arm up your back. You can also just push it downward into the reverse stop sign position.
 
Another cool component of the Rotater is that you can also order a band and handle to do some resistive exercises. Again, make sure it is okay for you to do resistive exercises at this point in your recovery. The Rotater holds the resistive band in place so you don't have to tie it up to anything or close it in a door where it might pop out at you.
 
So that's the Rotater in a nutshell! Just because it worked well for me, doesn't mean it is going to be right for you. Make sure to discuss this with your healthcare professional, and if you and your healthcare provider think it might be right for you, go to the Rotater website and check it out!

Relieve Tension Headaches with Simple Stretches

Tension headaches are very common, and they can really shut you down. Stress is the number one cause of tension headaches. With some simple stretches and exercises, you can relax the muscles that are causing the pain.
 
To start off, you want to loosen up your neck muscles with some active range of motion (ROM). Turn your head from side to side or rotate it.  Just turn until you feel some tension, and then turn back the other way. Then side bend your head where you are trying to touch your ear to your shoulder. You are not bringing your shoulder up to your ear, but you are bringing your ear down. Then bring your head up and down like you are looking at the ceiling and then looking at the floor. Do each of these about 5-10 times holding 3-5 seconds. If you are not feeling much of a stretch, then you can add some pressure with your hand. Hold these a little longer for about 10-15 seconds each.
 
Then you are going to do isometric exercises in each direction. Basically this is when you activate the muscle, but you are not moving it. You can do this by gently pressing into your hand in each direction. Hold each one of these for 3-5 seconds.
 
Now you can do shoulder shrugs where you are bringing your shoulders upwards towards the ceiling. Do about 10-15.  Then you can do shoulder circles; 10 one way, and then reverse it. Next do some shoulder squeezes where you are squeezing your shoulder blades together. Imagine someone has their hand on your spine and you are trying to squeeze their hand with your shoulder blades. Hold 3-5 seconds and do about 10.  
 
The last exercise is a chin tuck. This can be done lying down. Roll up a towel and place it in the curve of your neck for support and for a target. You want to tuck in your chin towards the ground. So it’s not tucking it towards your chest, but actually trying to push it downwards where your neck muscles push into the towel. Do that about 10 times.
 

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