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.

Safety
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

Fiber
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.

http://capwiz.com/amerpta/home/

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.

Running and Stretching on eightWest


Thursday, March 12, 2015
The weather has finally warmed up, after what seemed like the longest winter ever! Many people are itching to get outside, go running, and maybe even start training for a 5k. We stopped by the studios of eightWest this week to talk about stretching, running, and our latest 5k training program, RunFit.

Corey and Gina talked running and stretching with Rachael Ruiz.

Corey explains the proper way to stretch before running, while Gina demonstrates.

Watch our entire segment below, and if you have any questions on running, stretching, or fitness, just give us a call at 616.947.2720.


Our RunFit 5k training program starts March 18 at our new Grand Rapids location. The cost is only $20 for the 8 week session and participants will run the 5/3 Riverbank Run together on May 9. Register and get details here.

Check out our previous segments on eightWest where we talked about direct access and women's health.

Easy Exercises You Can Do Anywhere


Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Too busy to hit the gym? Don't like people watching you work out? No more excuses - you don't need a gym for these quick and easy exercises. All you need is the comfort of your own home or office - you can do these exercises anywhere. Burn a few calories and build strength and flexibility in just a few minutes each day.

Segmental Rotation: Core
Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms straight out to the side. With your back remaining neutral and your shoulders on the floor, let your knees roll slowly to the left. Go as far as feels comfortable, while keeping your spine neutral. You should feel a stretch throughout your core, but you should not feel pain. Hold this position for three deep breaths. Release and continue the exercise on your right side.


Wall Sit: Legs

No chair necessary! Against the wall begin to slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep your knees are directly above your ankles and make sure your back stays straight. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, rest and repeat 3-5 times. If your legs don't feel the burn or you want something more, increase the time to 60 seconds and/or grab some hand weights and do a few bicep curls at the same time.

Pelvic Brace Exercise: Core
This exercise creates a feeling of deep tension and a drawing in of the lower abdomen, low back and pelvic floor. To begin, your spine and low back should be in neutral position and you’ll always want to perform the exercise at 30% or less of your maximum effort. Bring your belly button closer to your spine as if you were deflating a balloon, not just sucking your tummy in. Always remember to keep breathing. To feel the exercise, place your fingers on your lower abdomen just inside your hip bones - you should feel the low level of contraction under your fingertips. The correct core activation contraction creates a hollowing of the lower belly to the bikini line, and stiffness in the deep low back muscles. Perform this exercise slowly and in a controlled manner in both directions of motion until you feel fatigue, with a goal of increased time or repetitions as you progress.


Calf Raises: Legs
Simple enough, you can do this while you brush your teeth. Push yourself up swiftly on your toes and slowly back down again. Increase resistance by doing it on one foot at a time. Aim for 50 to 100 reps anytime throughout the day, or do these during your two-minute teeth brushing session.

Bridge: Core
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Be sure to keep your spine in a neutral position - not arched up or pressed firmly into the floor. Brace your abdominal muscles while tightening your butt muscles and raise your hips off the floor until they are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Remember, your knees, abdomen and shoulders should create a straight line - no arching of the spine. Hold this position for three deep breaths, release, and repeat 10-15 times.
You can start out slowly if these exercises aren't comfortable - remember, it's ok to push yourself a little, but exercising should never be painful. Just like any repetitive motion, you'll get better and stronger with time and practice.

Our Grand Rapids Physical Therapy Clinic is Open for Business


Friday, February 27, 2015
March 2 marks a very exciting day for us here at Northern. After months of planning and prepping, our physical therapy clinic in Grand Rapids will be open for business! This PT clinic is really unique in that it's located inside the Northview Community Fitness Center, which is ideal because we have an incredible amount of equipment within arm's reach, making it easy to help patients stretch, exercise, and get back to feeling great again. 

We've already got patients in the books and we're ready to go! We'll be helping people who are dealing with back pain, neck pain, sore shoulders, sprained ankles, sports rehabilitation, recovery after surgery or injury, and everything in between.

Our Grand Rapids physical therapy clinic will be open for business on March 2

The clinic is located in the fitness wing of Northview High School at 4451 Hunsberger Avenue NE in Grand Rapids. Even though we're in the high school, both the physical therapy clinic and the fitness center are open to the public! To make an appointment with one of our physical therapists, call us at 616.947.2720 and we can get you scheduled right away.

We couldn't be more excited about this news! Tell your friends and family that there's a new physical therapy clinic in town and we're ready to get you back to living pain free!