Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. If you have a question, just ask! Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Quality Over Quantity

This next question is a continuation from the last post. I feel like I actually don’t hear this question asked enough, “What if I can’t do the exercise because it is too hard?” Often I feel like patients are not going to ask this question. Many times, they want to work hard and think they can just push through it. Other times, I think they don’t want to be seen as weak. And then there are times where they just might not care. However, I feel like this is a very important question, and you should never feel like you can’t ask this question. If your therapist gives you an exercise to do, and then walks off to do something else, if you feel like you can’t do it correctly, stop and wait until they get back.

If you feel like you are sacrificing your technique or compensating to do the exercise, stop immediately! That is how people end up hurting themselves. You can always modify an exercise, and this is why it is important to tell your therapist if you are having difficulty with an exercise. Any exercise can be modified by reducing the resistance or decreasing the motion. Once you have perfected it at that level, you can then build yourself back up to the full range or resistance.

Please do not try to continue to do an exercise if you truly feel like it is too hard. Compensating will not make it better, and you might end up hurting yourself even more than you started, or even hurt something else. Remember quality over quantity!

Hamstring Stretches

The hamstrings are very important muscles, and they work with the knee, hips, and back. When they are sore or painful, they can cause many problems. Hamstrings can be strained, sprained, or even completely torn. Many times people will feel pain in the back of their legs, behind the knees, or in the butt area. There are several ways to stretch your hamstrings, and some work better for some people than others. You don't have to do all these stretches, just pick one or two that work best for you. When you are stretching, make sure to hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds and do them 3 times. This video will show you ways to stretch your hamstrings lying down, sitting, and standing.

First, will be the stretches on your back. This stretch is called an active assisted stretch because you are actively doing the stretch. Grab the back of your thigh, and bring your hip to about 90 degrees. Slowly start to straighten your leg until you feel a good stretch as seen in the video. Not everyone will be able to straighten their knee completely. Do three sets of 30 seconds on each side. If your legs starts to shake and it is too hard to hold up, try using a belt or dog leash to help hold the stretch. This time you want to keep your leg straight the whole time. Try not to bend your knee, and gently pull your leg towards your head until you feel a good stretch.

Next, you will see some stretches sitting up. The most important part of this stretch is to keep your back straight. Many people try to curl their backs to be able to touch their toes. Your hamstrings are attached to what is called the ischial tuberosity, or your butt bone. So if you bend at your back, you are not going to get a good hamstring stretch. Try to bend at your hips. You can also do this stretch sitting on a couch or the side of a bed as shown in the video. Finally, you can stretch your hamstrings standing up. You can prop your leg on a step or chair. It is still important to bend at your hips and not your back. 

You may also want to check out the Hamstring Strengthening Exercises.

 

Repetitious Repetitions

Very often I will get asked, “How many repetitions should I do of each exercise?” This is a great question. Many times you will hear 3 sets of 10 reps (repetitions) or 2 sets of 15 reps. The truth is it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish with the exercise. If you want to tone your muscles, you want to do low weights with high reps (15-20), and if you want to build muscle, you do heavy weights with low reps (8-10). However, in the world of therapy and rehab, I usually tell my patients go until you feel a good burn, and then do 2 more reps. If you can do more than 20 reps without a burning feeling, aka your muscles fatiguing, then add weight or resistance.

The main goal over anything else is to use correct form and a controlled motion. If you are not able to do both of these, then you are using too much weight or resistance. Depending on the type of injury you have, just doing the controlled motion without any weights will work your muscles.

Remember, it’s about the quality of your exercises, not the quantity of your exercises. For example, five repetitions of a straight leg raise done with correct form and controlled motion will be more beneficial than fifteen done incorrectly. It is very important to tell your therapist if you feel like the exercise is too hard and you are sacrificing form to complete it. A skilled therapist should always be able to modify an exercise so you can perform it correctly without losing correct technique.

Have Knee Pain? This video may be able to help.

 

Say Wha?!

One of the best parts of my job is hearing what people say. You know that show called “Kids Say the Darndest Things?” Well it’s not just kids anymore! Sometimes it’s hard not to giggle a little, but don’t worry I won’t make fun of you…to your face.

First off, I love the names people call physical therapists. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt our feelings, and it probably just pumps us up even more.  

The most common term people call me is a physical terrorist! I have also been called a pain inflictor, torturer, and I have even been called The Terminator. One sweet lady told me she would tell her friends she is going to terror-py.

Okay, so maybe I do enjoy occasional tears, and cries for mercy. But in the end, I really do want you to get better and live a healthier lifestyle.

What I love even more than being called such encouraging names, is when patients don’t quite get the medical terminology right. For example, in one of my videos I talked about a gentlemen who asked about his “plantain French-fritis.” As you were reading, did you figure out his was asking about his plantar fasciitis? Believe me, I only think it’s funny because if I wasn’t in the health profession, I am sure I wouldn’t know how to pronounce many of these words either. 

Sometimes there is also terminology specific to the region you are living in. I thought I was a good ole southern girl, but some of the things I have heard in the South, I have never heard of before. So don’t feel bad or stupid about saying it wrong. Nine times out of ten, I (and all the other therapists) have heard it pronounced that way before, or we will be able to figure it out after saying it a few times in our head.  

So for fun, I am going to list a few of the terms I have heard. Feel free to try to figure them out, or comment on ones you have heard before…or maybe even said yourself laugh

  1. Rotor cup
  2. Rotisserie cup
  3. Rotorary club
  4. “I’ve got that sciatic nerve.”
  5. “I’m stoved up!”
  6. “It hurts in my leaders”
  7. Fibro-my-allergy
  8. “I’ve got the sugar.”
  9. Tinsel-itis
  10.  “I thought OA stood for old age!”
  11. “Old Arthur is in my knees”
  12. “The rain’s comin’…I can feel it in my bones!”
  13. car-pool tunnel
  14. “The doctor kept telling me I had an acute injury. I didn’t think it was cute at all.”
  15. Tender-itis 
  16. Pair of alice’s

Don’t ever feel like you can’t tell your doctor or therapist something because you might sound or look silly. Open communication is the key to getting better.

Elbow Pain

Many times with elbow pain, you will be diagnosed with tennis elbow or golfer's elbow. Tennis elbow is when you have pain on the outside or lateral side of your elbow or forearm. This is when the extensor muscles of the arm get irritated and it is called lateral epicondylitis. Golfer's elbow is pain on the inside or medial side of the elbow or forearm. This is when the flexor muscles get irritated, and it is called medial epicondylitis. 

These exercises will also help if you have been diagnosed with tendonitis or bursitis of the elbow, or if it is just feeling stiff or achy. Start off with your arm out and no bend in the elbow. Go gently first, bend your wrist down into flexion. Then bend your wrist up  into extension. If that doesn't feel like a good stretch, you can use your other hand for some overpressure. Gently push into the direction you are stretching. You can also push against a wall for some overpressure.

 

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