Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Preventing Muscle Cramps During Athletic Participation

Muscle cramps are involuntary, intensely painful muscle contractions that often affect the arms and/or legs of individuals participating in intense workouts or endurance events.  The most common muscles involved are the calf muscles, hamstrings, and quadriceps.  Many athletes experience muscle cramps at some point in their lives, but some people simply seem to be more prone to muscle cramps.

There are a couple of theories about the causes or triggers of muscle cramping.  The two most commonly accepted theories include dehydration/electrolyte imbalances and fatigue/spinal reflex involvement.  We know that individuals with fatigued muscles, individuals who increase their workout intensity too fast, and individuals participating in athletics in heat are more likely to experience cramps.

So what can people do to prevent or decrease the occurrence of muscle cramps?

1.       Gradually increase training intensity.  When starting an exercise regimen, make a plan to gradually progress your workout intensity.  Basically, ramp up your workouts.  Do not go from the couch to max intensity exercise.

2.       Acclimate yourself to the environment.  This is important when participating in warm environments.  In warm environments try gradually increasing your exercise intensity over the course of several weeks.

3.       Consume the right amount of fluids for your body to prevent dehydration.  A way to monitor this is to weigh yourself before and after exercise.  A loss of greater than 2-3% body weight puts you at risk of dehydration.  Make sure to replace this loss with water or non-caffeinated sports drinks.  A simple way of determining if you are becoming dehydrated is to check your urine color.  If your urine color is not clear and is more of a yellow color, then you could use more fluids.  Preventing dehydration takes planning and should include getting adequate fluids over the course of several days before competition of heavy exercise. Avoid energy drinks, especially ones that contain caffeine and can act as a diuretic and lead to dehydration.

4.       Choose salty foods or sodium rich sports products before, during and after exercise.   Some individuals’ sweat may contain a higher concentration of sodium (the salty/grainy portion of sweat that you can feel).  It is important for these individuals to increase their sodium intake.  This can be done by supplementing pretzels, Roman noodles, and soup into your diet.  Eating nutrient rich foods that include other electrolytes including potassium, calcium, and magnesium may also be beneficial.

5.       Consume carbohydrates before your workout and during your workout if it is longer than 60-90 minutes.  Carbohydrates provide the energy that muscles need to contract and relax. 

Dustin Eslinger, MA, ATC

Certified Athletic Trainer

Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Wow, what a week!! From my 4 year old son starting preschool for the year, moving out of our second home and moving back in with my parents (for a short time), teaching my first HIIT (high intensity interval training) class and working my regular job, I can't help but scream TGIF!! I am mentally, emotionally and physically drained but sit here and think about how blessed and grateful I am for everyone in my life. 

I have to remind myself it is "okay" to take time for me to rejuvenate and keep myself sane. We all have been there with busy schedules or committing to too many things and don't allow our selves time to take care "ME". We should never feel guilty or selfish but look at it as a way to relax, refocus and recharge to get back out there. 

For myself, I need to workout a few times a week to allow my stress to get released. When I don't,  I feel like pot that is going to boil over. It is a time for me to focus on something other than my kids, my husband, my job, etc. Even if it is 30-60 minutes out of the 24 hours in a day, it is what I need to chill out. 

Finding something to give yourself that time, whatever it may be, will allow you to be happier, healthier and feel your best. I have to remind myself from time to time, I can't help others if I don't help myself!

Kerra Pietach, LPTA
Andover Physical Therapy 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

5 week countdown to 5k!! 

We are excited to announce that we are hosting our 3rd annual 5k walk/run on Saturday, October 15th in recognition of National Physical Therapy Month. The proceeds from the walk/run will be going to the volunteer organization, Citizens Supporting Our Armed Forces who support our deployed soldiers and their families. Will this be your first 5k run/walk ever?? Don’t even know where to start? No worries, we are here to help.

Making A Plan
 First off, you may be asking how many miles is a 5k. A 5k is 3.1 miles. I just started using the couch to 5k application 2 weeks ago that has helped me ease into the 5k training plan gradually. There are 2 ways to follow this training program, to measure your runs by time or by distance. The app doesn’t push you to run your very fastest, but it focuses on increasing your time or distance you run. Each session should take about 20 to 30 minutes, 3 times per week.  Download the app on your phone now to go from couch potato to 5k.

3 Ways To Find Motivation To Run
    1. Find a running buddy. A running partner can make your training days more enjoyable.
  2. Signing up for a race: Having a goal to work towards and an exact date will help you stick to your training.
 3. Reward yourself: Maybe you didn’t miss a day from running? You did better on your race time? Celebrate it! Buy something that will help you with your new hobby: a new pair of running shoes, a water bottle or a runner’s watch.


  • Stretch after every workout to avoid injuries.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard, jog at a comfortable pace.
  • Hydrate and eat an hour before your run for energy. 

 Please invite your family and friends to our 5k. Halloween costumes are encouraged!! Go to the link below to sign up for our 5k now. We are now offering online registration! Can’t wait to see you there!   

Kaitlyn Grell, LPTA
St.Francis Physical Therapy

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Kinesio Tape

Kinesio Tape 

With the Olympics going on this week, I have gotten many questions regarding all the tape being worn by the many different athletes. It is Kinesio tape, which has many different uses and effects on the body.

There are different brands of tape on the market that utilize some of the same properties. However, in the late 1970's Dr. Kenzo Kase, a chiropractor in Tokyo, developed Kinesio tape and the Kinesio tape method. It was constructed to facilitate the body's healing process and extend the benefits of treatment.

What is Kinesio tape and how does it work?
The tape is 100% latex free made from cotton fiber strips. It is hypoallergenic and is water resistant to allow consumers to wear it for multiple days. The tape was designed to not limit range of motion and to effectively facilitate or inhibit a muscle action. It can also be used to decrease swelling or bruising that arise from injury or surgery.

When the tape is applied, it creates a microscopic lift of the skin allowing for improved blood flow. It has the ability to decrease inflammation, promote muscle re-education and prevent injury. This is why we see many athletes apply it before a competition.

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA, CFNC
Andover Physical Therapy

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth This Summer

This fruit salsa is a sweet salsa made from diced fruit and served with cinnamon chips. 
This will be a hit at any get together! Enjoy! 



                      Cinnamon crisps
                       -10 flour tortillas (10")
                       -Cooking spray or Olive oil spray
                        -1/3 cup white sugar
                        -1 tsp cinnamon
                       Fruit salsa          
                       -2 granny smith apples
                        -1 lemon
                        -1 cup finely diced melon (your favorite variety) or kiwi.
                        -1 lb strawberries
                         -1 lb raspberries
                        -4 tbsp preserves (I use raspberry)


             Cinnamon crisps
             1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cinnamon and sugar. Set aside. 
            2. Working with 3 tortillas at a time, spray both sides of the tortilla and sprinkle each side lightly with                     
                 cinnamon sugar.
           3. Stack 3 tortillas and using a pizza cutter, cut tortillas into 12 wedges. Place on a baking sheet and 
              bake 8-11 minutes or until crisp. 

              Fruit salsa 
              1. Zest the lemon and set aside. Peel and finely chop apple, squeeze 2 tsp lemon juice over apples and 
                  mix well to combine. 
             2. Finely chop strawberries and melon. Gently combine all ingredients, the raspberries will break apart a
                 a bit but that's what you want. Allow to sit at room temp for at least 15 minutes before serving. 


Kaitlyn Grell, LPTA 
St.Francis Physical Therapy 

Friday, July 29, 2016

To Flip Flop or Not?

Summertime seems like it's just around the corner, and that means ditching the boots and tennis shoes for flip flops.... right? Wrong! We need to take care of our feet all year long. Our feet support our entire body, and the right support underneath them is important. It can be quite an adjustment for the feet to go from supportive footwear all winter long, to sandals and flip flops that offer little-to-no support. In fact, since the mechanics of the feet can impact joints further up the body when walking or standing (we call this the kinetic chain), slipping into those floppy sandals can affect the knees, hips, and low back as well. Have you ever noticed your low back starting to hurt after standing too long in flat shoes? Well then it's time to add a little support back under those feet.

If your feet don't have the right kind of support, and you do a lot of walking or standing throughout the day, you may even begin to develop pain in the feet or heels. It is common for people who don't wear appropriate footwear to experience pain like this, known as plantar fasciitis. This is just one of the injuries that can result from not taking proper care of your feet. The bottom line is: if you must wear those cute sandals you just bought for summer, wear them on a day that you're not going to be doing too much activity. If you have a long day of walking or standing ahead of you, be nice to your feet and give them the proper support with tennis shoes or supportive dress shoes. You can even add extra arch support with an over-the-counter orthotic if the shoe doesn't have it already built in. Your feet, and the rest of your body, will thank you!

If you do develop pain in the feet, or another related injury, you can always call your local physical therapist or speak to your physician about treatment options.

Paige Koehne, PT, DPT, CMTPT
Physical Therapist 
Andover Physical Therapy 

Friday, July 22, 2016

I hope everyone is having a great summer!  This week I found myself finalizing preparations for the fall high school athletic season to begin at St. Francis High School.  I unpacked the recently arrived athletic training room supplies, reviewed the athletics emergency plan, and made plans for the fall sports round-up and fall athletic training coverage schedule.  
As I prepare for the start of the fall athletics season, so are coaches, athletes, and parents.  One aspect that tends to sneak up on athletes and parents is making sure the athlete has a completed current preparticipation physical exam (PPPE) on file at the high school.  The Minnesota State High School League requires athletes to have an updated PPPE completed every 3 years before ANY physical activity participation in a sport. 
Preparticipation physical exams have a health history and an exam section.  The health history section is completed by the athlete and parent/guardian and alerts the examining health care provider to potential health care concerns that may need to be addressed prior to athletic participation.  The exam is to be conducted by the appropriate health care professional licensed to provide physicals in the state of Minnesota (Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants)
The goals of a PPPE are:
• To identify medical conditions that may require further evaluation and treatment before participation
• To identify orthopedic conditions that may require further evaluation and treatment, including physical therapy, before participation
• To identify athletes at risk of sudden death
• To identify at-risk adolescents and young adults who are at risk for substance abuse, STDs, pregnancy, violence, depression, and so on
If athletes and parents are unsure if an updated PPPE is due they can check by either logging onto the high school athletics registration site or by calling the St. Francis High School Athletic department.  If a PPPE is due, scheduling with your family physician is a good place to complete this exam.  Now is also a great time to be on the lookout for free PPPEs being offered by clinics at select dates and times between now and the start of the athletics season.
Let’s have a great fall athletics season!

Dustin Eslinger, MA, ATC
Athletic Trainer
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.