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Role of Physical Therapy on Heart Health

The impact of heart disease is significant, since it affects the quality of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day.

The good news is that lifestyle changes can make a difference. Your physical therapist can play an important role in improving your heart health. Don’t wait until your physician tells you it’s time to exercise, take some pre-emptive action. Call our office today and ask us to craft a “heart healthy” exercise program. Even if you have never exercised before, we’ll improve the health of your heart with a safe, progressive exercise program. Expect to work closely with us, and together as a team, we’ll improve the way your heart functions.

If you currently suffer from heart related issues, your physical therapist can help you regain an active lifestyle by working on three specific areas:

  • Mobility issues
  • Healthy eating and lifestyle changes
  • Physical activities geared towards your specific abilities and goals
The Heart – An Amazing Organ

The average heart rate of an average adult is 72 beats per minute. If you live to be 80 years old, your heart could beat almost 3 billion times. The heart is an amazing organ that keeps beating involuntarily and powers blood circulation for the entire body. Here are some important considerations for heart health.

  • Understand the impact of lifestyle – While genetics play a part in heart disease, lifestyle choices have a significant impact. Smoking, overeating, eating unhealthy food and a sedentary lifestyle are factors that must be improved, especially when heart disease runs in the family.
  • Eat healthy – Minimize the consumption of sodium and trans fats. Eat healthy fruits and vegetables daily (try frozen versions when fresh produce is not in season as they hold the most nutrients).
  • Join heart healthy programs – Several programs can help you achieve a heart healthy lifestyle. In September 2011, the CDC launched a national initiative called A Million Hearts that includes a list of partners (federal and private sector) committed to keeping people heart healthy. Among those participating are the American Heart Association, the YMCA, Walgreens, and numerous health insurance companies. You may want to consider challenging your family and friends to take the Million Hearts™ pledge (or taking the pledge yourself) at www.millionhearts.hhs.gov
  • Keep Moving – Being active doesn’t mean having to run on a treadmill or attend a workout class. Simple things like taking a daily walk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from your destination and walking to it can make a difference. Just keep moving!
The ABCS of a Healthy Heart

Although exercise is an important part of heart disease prevention, it is important to remember the ABCS of a healthy heart. Consult your physician for more information on these four key factors:

A – an Aspirin a day can help keep your heart healthy. Ask your physician if low dose aspirin is a good idea for you.

B – know your Blood pressure numbers. If your blood pressure remains high for a period of time, you may be at risk for heart disease. Ask your physician for more information.

C – know your Cholesterol levels – your body has ‘good’ cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol. The ratio between these numbers is an important determinant of heart health.

S – there’s no question Smoking is detrimental to the heart! Smoking has a detrimental effect on other organs including your lungs and has been proven to cause cancer.

As your physical therapists, we are committed to helping you live a healthy lifestyle brimming with energy and abundance. A strong, healthy heart is the first step, and we want to help you. Don’t wait, just give us a call today and ask us for more information. You owe it to your heart.

Rehab for Rapid Recovery of Pulled Hamstring

The hamstring muscles, located at the back of the thigh, are comprised of three muscle groups. Injuries to this muscle are common in athletes participating in sports such as football or basketball. They are also common in ‘weekend warriors’ and individuals who participate in walking, jogging or running without a period of adequate warm up and stretching.

This muscle group allows your knee to bend, and plays a critical role in every activity involving the lower body. Your hamstrings are contracting every single time you take a step, climb a flight of stairs or get in and out of your car.

The anatomy of this muscle group

The three muscle groups that comprise the hamstrings include the biceps femoris, semi-membranosus and semi-tendinosus. A partial or complete tear of either of these muscles is a likely possibility in hamstring injuries.

hammy

Cause of hamstring muscle injury

A sudden, excessive stress on this muscle group is a common cause of injury. An individual with a previous history of hamstring injuries is more likely to get re-injured. Hamstring muscle tightness and inadequate warm-up can also cause injuries.

The Role of the Physical Therapist

The role of the physical therapist is extremely important in managing patients with hamstring injuries. Prior to treatment, the therapist will obtain a detailed history and perform a clinical examination to ascertain the degree of injury and the muscle groups involved. This will help create a foundation for a safe and effective treatment program.

If the injury was sustained recently, the therapist will recommend rest, since the primary goal is to avoid an increase in pain and excessive strain on sensitive muscles and ligaments. You may be asked to avoid exercise and in some cases, avoid walking. You may be asked to use crutches for support.

In an effort to deal with the pain associated with such injuries, the therapist may recommend an ice pack and a compression bandage to reduce swelling.

Physical therapists will prescribe and supervise a structured exercise program once the acute injury phase (and the associated pain and swelling) has subsided. These can include –

pulled hammy1. Muscle strength exercises – including static and dynamic strength exercises to help regain strength as quickly as possible.

2. Range of motion – including active and passive range of motion exercises that can be partial, or complete range of motion. This helps maintain mobility and minimize muscle tightness.

3. Provision of support devices – The use of assistive devices like crutches, walkers or canes to walk short distances is helpful for patients during the recovery phase. The physical therapist will help analyze the need for such a device, identify the right device (if needed) and assist in acquiring such a device.

Restoration of Control

In addition to the restoration of strength and mobility, an important objective of physical therapy is the restoration of muscle control and balance following hamstring injuries.

When the hamstrings are injured, the strength ratio between the quadriceps (muscles at the front of the thigh) and the hamstrings is also impacted. Weakness or tightness in the hamstrings (as a result of an injury) can also put you at an increased risk of injury to the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, which is a ligament that facilitates with knee stability.

Exercises involving balance, weight bearing and unexpected shifts in direction can improve strength and stability in the hamstring muscles. For an athlete recovering from hamstring injuries, a physical therapist will work on motor control and help train sport-specific movements.

Whether you are a weekend warrior or an athlete suffering from a hamstring injury, physical therapy can help. In fact, the scope of physical therapy extends far beyond hamstring injuries and includes pain relief and restoration of function for any muscle injury in the body. Give us a call, and we’ll help you regain control of your muscles as quickly as possible.