The Benefits of Yoga

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Yoga is one of the simplest forms of exercise due to the fact that you can do it just about anywhere, its inexpensive, each pose can be modified to your level of fitness, and its incredibly beneficial for all ages and stages. If you think yoga is just for the super flexible and those who meditate, think again.

Yoga uses a combination of stretching, relaxation techniques and breathing to achieve a calming yet active state. The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga have incredible benefits and are often used to help lessen chronic pain in the lower back, relieve arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. But the potential healing capabilities don't stop there.

Benefits of Yoga
- Increases flexibility, muscle strength and tone
- Improves respiration and energy levels
- Helps achieve a deeper sleep
- Assists in creating a balanced metabolism and helps with weight reduction
- Prevents digestive issues including IBS
- Assists with cardio and circulatory health
- Improves athletic performance
- Protects you from future injury
- Perfects your posture
- Protects your spine
- Improves your balance

But there aren't just physical benefits to yoga, there are mental benefits as well. Yoga is an ideal practice for managing stress, which can have serious effects on your body and overall health. Yoga can also be a conduit to a more positive outlook on life. When you take a moment to relax, quiet your mind, and do something physical for yourself, your body will thank you.

We offer yoga classes as part of our fitness program. New classes start every few weeks and we welcome attendees of all fitness levels. Visit our class page to see the schedule and class nearest you.

Get “Back” to Life and Save Money

Thursday, July 09, 2015
How much do you think low back pain costs you on an annual basis? Let's break it down. Has the pain ever caused you to take time off work? Have you been laid up when you should have been out enjoying life? Did you visit the doctor and get a prescription or maybe even have surgery? Over time these things can really add up.

But what if you would have visited a physical therapist first? Would things be different? Research says yes and the findings indicate that physical therapists provide cost effective treatments for lower back pain.

Low back pain has become a common ailment for many, especially those who work in office environments. Sitting for long hours in positions that disrupt the kinetic chain and make for less than ideal ergonomics increases the risk of low back pain. Up to 44% of adults under the age of 45 have low back pain at any given time in their life. And, in addition to coping with pain in the lower back, people also suffer financially if they don’t pursue, or aren’t informed, on the most cost effective treatment options.

A 2015 Health Services Research Journal study on the costs of low back pain compared to the effectiveness of treatment reveals that initial treatment for patients complaining of lower back pain averaged at about $504, while treatments that relied on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) averaged at $1,306. In addition, those patients that received physical therapy as their first line of treatment saved 66% on their treatment costs over the next year.

Low back pain not only causes discomfort but it also deprives you of the ability to perform certain daily activities. Physical therapy has helped countless Americans tackle their low back pain and, what’s better, it treats their issue without becoming an economic burden on their household finances.

If you’re suffering from low back pain, there are several treatment options that a physical therapist can provide, including:
- Manual therapy
- Strengthening and flexibility exercises
- Movement mechanics training

Sixty-one percent of Americans complain of low back pain, but there is no reason to let it go untreated. We provide the best treatment and we have payment plans to jumpstart you on the road to recovery. For more information, call the clinic nearest you.

Stacy Tarrh, Grand Rapids Physical Therapist

Thursday, July 02, 2015
Exercise, physical therapy, and wellness - I love promoting and practicing a healthy lifestyle. The field of physical therapy and the opportunities I have to work with people of all ages and diagnoses are what I love about my job. Because I am an avid runner and have advanced training in gait analysis I work well with athletes, specifically dealing with rehabilitation for runners.

Since graduating from Andrews University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program in 2006, I've been practicing physical therapy in out-patient settings. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to combine my passions for physical therapy and fitness, and promote a healthy lifestyle to Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities.

Outside of work, I love spending time outdoors with my husband and our two young children. We live in Sparta and can often be found enjoying the beautiful trails and parks. I also enjoy participating in local sprint triathlons, gardening, and spending time with family and friends.

If you have questions about fitness related injuries, or running in general, you can email me here.

Benefits of a Resistance Band Workout

Thursday, June 18, 2015
Resistance bands are one of the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment around and they're increasing in popularity due to their portability and low cost. You can create a workout for your entire body, and customize it based on your goals, with an entire system that fits right in a portable bag.

Ideal for people who want a quick workout while traveling, don't have room for a home gym, or are just looking for convenience and versatility, resistance bands fit the bill. 

Ideal For All Fitness Levels
Resistance bands typically come in multiple levels of resistance ranging from light to heavy, so you can start wherever you're comfortable, then adjust the level of resistance by placing more or less slack on the band, or by combining multiple bands at once. 

Full Body Workout
Because the number of exercises you can do with the bands is endless, they are ideal for working on your back, abs, triceps, legs, biceps, chest, and shoulders. Most kits come with suggested exercises, and the Bodylastics website shows a wide variety of ways to work each muscle set.

Cost Effective
Imagine getting a complete home gym for around $25. Sounds impossible, right? Its not, get yours here.

Use In Place of Larger Equipment
Resistance bands can often take the place of larger, bulkier equipment, making them easier for the home gym. One common exercise involves standing on one end of the band while curling your bicep. In this case the band takes the place of a set of dumbbells.

Because resistance bands are so light you can easily and safely exercise on your own, without the need for a spotter. And you don't have to worry about dropping a heavy weight on yourself.

A More Effective Workout
Free weights rely on gravity and they feel the heaviest at the beginning of the motion. Resistance bands offer the most tension at the end of the motion, which some argue is a more effective workout.

If you have any questions on resistance band workouts, or want to check out the Bodylastic system, give us a call at 616-997-6172 and one of our personal trainers would be happy to assist you.

All images courtesy of Bodylastics

Juicing 101 : What You Need to Know

Thursday, May 21, 2015
Juicing is a great way to pack a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, but before you get started, here's a few things to take into consideration.

Benefits of Juicing
  • It's very easy to get a wide variety of nutrients and vitamins in your diet because you can mask foods that you aren't crazy about with others that you love. For example, if you're not a fan of kale, you can throw a few stalks in and hide the taste with something sweeter like an apple or some fresh berries.
  • If you're not a big veggie eater, you can easily consume your entire recommended daily intake in one glass of juice

Because the juicer extracts the juice, leaving behind all the pulp, you're missing out on all the fiber in the produce. To get around this, you can add a little of the pulp back into the juice, or use it for cooking. Vegetable pulp is a great addition to soup, and fruit pulp can be used in muffins and baked goods.

Calories and Cleansing
Everything you're juicing is very good for you so you don't have to be too worried about calories, but if you juice mainly fruits you will intake a higher calorie and sugar count. Vegetables, on the other hand, are pretty low in calories and sugar, so its good to mix both varieties in each glass of juice you consume. 

You've probably heard of people doing liquid diets where they consume nothing but juice. We don't recommend this because you are losing out on fiber and some other important nutrients. And because the loss of fiber might not make you feel as full, your diet could backfire, causing you to crave a dessert in return.

The Juicing Machine
There are a lot of options out there, but we personally like the Breville brand. The Juice Fountain Compact is a great machine to start with and one of Breville's lower priced options. You can always graduate up if you end up needing something more, but we think this model will work well for beginners and those who already juice regularly.

Overall, juicing is a wonderful addition to your diet, and one that we definitely recommend as a way to up your fruit and veggie intake. Just remember that no matter what you eat, you should always stick with a balanced diet, low in fats, high in plants, and always drink a lot of water.

If you have any questions on food plans, dieting, or your health in general, our personal trainers are happy to help. Give us a call at 616.997.6172 and we'll talk you through your concerns and see what options are best for your weight and body goals.

Talking About Healthy Kids and Teens on eightWest

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
It’s never easy to see your child in pain. Whether they’ve had an accident, an injury on the field, or are having trouble with fine motor skills, you want to do everything you can to protect them and keep them safe. When we treat kids and teens, we try to make the experience fun so it’s enjoyable and kids can get back to feeling good again. In the process, we always educate families on how to keep their kids safe, while still allowing them to have fun and do the things that kids do.

We talked about this very topic with the delightful Terri DeBoer when we stopped by WOOD TV's eightWest this week.
Gina Otterbein and Diana Painter talk with Terri DeBoer about kids, physical therapy, and health.

Some of the most common injuries that bring young children to us include sprains and strains, broken bones, and what’s commonly called growing pains or muscle imbalances. We can also help with fine motor challenges in school like cutting paper and handwriting. Teens tend to come in for things like concussions, sprains and strains from playing sports, back and shoulder pain due to poor posture, and strains due to texting and gaming.

We also offer free helmet and backpack fitting assessments at all six of our locations. All you have to do is stop by with your child and their helmet or backpack.

View our entire eightWest segment here.

If you have questions about kids' safety, health, or pain they are experiencing, feel free to contact us at the location nearest you - Cedar Springs, Coopersville, Grand Rapids, Grant, Sparta, or Wayland. And, check out our previous segments on eightWest where we talked about running and stretching, direct access and women's health.

How to Use a Foam Roller

Friday, April 10, 2015
Foam rollers have the ability to alleviate tight muscles and soreness because they increase blood flow and flexibility. They've become popular over the last few years because they're lightweight and portable, and they can be used to work so many areas of the body like a sore back or tight hips or hamstrings.

Similar to traditional stretching, a foam roller is great for lengthening and elongating muscles, but unlike stretching it adds a massage effect into the mix. By utilizing your own body weight the foam roller allows you to perform a myofascial release, which is much like a self-massage, because it breaks up trigger points and helps stimulate blood flow and circulation to your muscles and tissues.

Using the foam roll
A foam roll should be used as part of your daily routine, not just when you have a sore spot. A lot of people wait until they feel tightness and simply roll it out, but it is ideal to think of the roll as a preventative measure to reduce your chances of a future injury or tightness.

Here are a few methods for using the foam roller effectively. If you have any questions on which foam roll is the right size for you, exercises, aches, or pains, feel free to contact our personal trainer at 616.997.6172.

Image via Health Central

The Benefits of Water and the 100 Ounce Challenge

Tuesday, April 07, 2015
What if there was a magic pill that could make your skin look clearer, ease your aching joints and muscle cramps, and help you lose weight? That's enough to entice you, right? But it gets even better. What if the pill was free? 

Here's the thing…this "magic pill" does exist, only its not actually a pill. Its a liquid, its abundant, and its practically free. We're talking about water and the benefits it provides is utterly amazing.

When thirst takes over, what is your beverage of choice? In the US, the most popular choice is a soft drink, followed by water. Considering the amount of sugar and empty calories in a soda, and the rate at which obesity is climbing, water seems like a clear choice.

Surprising Benefits of Water
Approximately 60% of the body is made of water so it only makes sense that drinking enough will help to maintain your fluid balance, which is crucial in helping all organs and parts work properly, transporting nutrients throughout the body, regulating temperature, digesting food regularly, and the list goes on and on.

Aids in weight loss
Want to shed a few pound the easy way? Drink a glass of water before each meal. The H2O helps to fill you up so you don't consume as many calories. You're also not consuming the empty calories you would if you were drinking a soda instead.

Flush more toxins
Extra water helps your body to flush out excess toxins through sweat and urination which results in clearer pores and less acne. Water also reduces your chances for kidney stones and urinary tract infections. 

Increase productivity & decrease fatigue
Feeling the afternoon slump coming on? Grab a glass of water to give you the boost you need. One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is feeling fatigued. Water can help with concentration and staying alert, too.

No more pain
Keeping your body hydrated can keep your joints and cartilage lubricated and give your muscles more elasticity which will relieve aching joints, muscle cramps, and strains. Water is also a natural headache remedy and it can even help people who suffer from back pain and migraines because these issues are commonly caused by dehydration.

Aids in digestion
Not feeling regular? Ample amounts of water help your colon, which in turn, keeps things moving smoothly.

Fight Illness
Drinking plenty of water aids in decongestion and dehydration, which both help you bounce back faster when you're feeling under the weather. Some researchers even believe that drinking plenty of water helps fight against common issues such as cold and flu, as well as more serious issues like cancer and heart attacks.

Here's The Challenge
If we haven't already convinced you with the numerous benefits, let your body tell you. We challenge you to drink 100 ounces of water each day for the next 30 days and see if you feel any different at the end of the month. Its really not that difficult, we promise. Grab a refillable water container and keep it at your desk, drink it with your meals, have a glass first thing when you get up in the morning and before you know it you'll have reached your 100 ounce goal. We encourage you to take a photo of yourself at the beginning of the month and then again at the end. Does your skin look different? Have the dark circles under your eyes gotten any lighter? Do you look healthier overall?

We want to hear about (and see) your results, so be sure to let us know how you did. And here's the thing - even if we're wrong (which we're not), what's the worst that can happen? Your body is going to thank you for accepting this challenge.

Repeal the Medicare Cap

Monday, April 06, 2015
As Michigan consumers, you have a right to let your voice be heard!

Medicare beneficiaries have a dollar cap on the amount of therapy they can receive per year - $1940 for physical therapy and speech combined, and $1940 for occupational therapy. If a patient has been diagnosed with a complicated illness, sustained multiple injuries, or needs more than one orthopedic surgery within a year, the cap can easily be exceeded - limiting the amount of services they need and deserve.

There is legislation to repeal this cap. Give your voice to Congress so they know you'd like the Medicare cap to be repealed. Follow the link below to send an email to your legislator. It only takes a few seconds to let your voice be heard! The American Physical Therapy Association is lobbying on Capitol Hill in your favor, but they need your support.

The Benefits of Choosing Organic

Friday, April 03, 2015
While shopping in the produce department you see two peaches, side by side, and they appear to be identical - the only visual difference is that one costs 20 cents more. But the actual difference is far greater. Which do you buy?

If you've perused the organic produce section in your local grocery store you've noticed the prices are higher than conventional produce, but in return you're missing out on the addition of nasty pesticides that can leach into your foods. 

Over the last few years people have begun to understand the effects of pesticides and their actions are speaking volumes. USDA economists have reported that organic produce sales have increased by $10 billion in the last decade. The immersion of pesticides in our diets has become a topic of interest over time and researchers and consumers alike are questioning whether increases in diseases and illness are a direct result of the foods we eat.

Organic Benefits
- Organic produce contains fewer pesticides and higher levels of antioxidants
- Organic food is often fresher and tastes better
- Organic food is safer for babies and children
- Organic farming is better for the environment
- Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts
- Organic food is GMO-free

Although we feel that its best to buy organic whenever possible, if you have reservations, there are some foods that are definitely worth the extra cost and others that you might be able to skip. 

Foods you don't have to buy organic
Be looking for fruits and vegetables that have thick skin or are grown underground. The thick peels make it more difficult for the pesticides to seep through and many bugs avoid produce that is grown underground.
- Avocado
- Onion
- Pineapple
- Sweet Corn
- Asparagus

Foods you should buy organic
As you might guess, produce with thinner or edible peels typically sustain higher amounts of pesticides within the food itself. If at all possible, always buy organic versions of the following:
- Apples
- Peaches
- Strawberries
- Grapes
- Peppers
- Tomatoes
- Cucumbers
- Spinach

If you want to learn more about organic foods, check out the EWG website, which highlights the Dirty Dozen, the Clean Fifteen, and everything in between.