When things get tough will you quit?


As most of you know that read my posts my son plays travel baseball and I’m a coach on the team. Lately it has taken over my life, and I’m okay with that because I enjoy it so much! But I keep finding different reasons to talk about it because these kids show me something different each week. As with all 9 year olds there is an up and down attitude about them each day, week and month. One day they look like super stars out there and nothing can stop them. The next day they look like they are back in T-ball again. This past weekend was one of those weekends where you wondered how they would respond after the events that took place.

We played in a tournament called the Battle of the Boarder in Youngstown Ohio. Leading up to the weekend we knew that competition was going to be very good. 2 teams in particular were going to be there. Beaver Valley Red and West Hills. The last time we played West hills they beat up on us pretty badly. By about 13 runs to be exact! It wasn’t pretty, but our kids had bounced back in the next tournament they played in to take 2nd place. We were in a different bracket then either team and were set to face 2 teams we had never played. The day before the tournament started one dropped out and our schedule changed. Now we were scheduled to play Beaver Valley. I was excited to see how our kids matched up against them since we had never played them before. Once the kids heard that was who they were playing that’s all they talked about. They obsessed about it actually! And it was not in a good way. The game started and we walked the first batter, not a good start! Nerves were probably going crazy for most, but we managed to get 2 outs and the score was only 1-0. Then all hell broke loose! We committed 6 errors giving up 12 runs in the first inning! After the first inning it was 12-0! How does this happen? Little things like catching the ball before trying to throw it. Balls going through their legs, and coming in on fly balls instead of stepping back first. All things our kids do very well most of the time. Their nerves got the best of them. Needless to say the game ended in 4 innings after losing 18-1. We lost the second game 12-6 against another team we had never played mostly due to mistakes and kids just not being in the game. It was tough to watch and hard to talk to the boys afterwards. Sunday would tell us what type of team we have and how they respond.

The next morning the kids warmed up and you could tell they were more lively and upbeat. They started out strong and lead most of the game until the bottom of the 5th giving up 2 runs to be down 5-4. The kids battled that last inning but couldn’t find a way to get another run. We lost that game, but showed great resilience and determination to come back after getting the crap beat out of us the day before. It was great to see how our boys responded.

I wanted to share this with you all because there are always going to be times in life and in physical therapy that you are going to want to quit. Things are just going to get too hard for you and giving up seems to be the easiest thing to do. I know because I have felt like quitting before. My first 2 weeks of PT school I almost quit! I felt that it was going to be too hard and too much for me to handle. I was sick of school at that point and now I was going to have to go for an additional 3 years! I went home that weekend and thought about it a lot. I kept telling myself I could go and get a job for a little while and figure it out. Then I realized that I committed to doing this and this was what I felt passionate about. I’m so glad that I decided to continue my journey. Just know that it’s normal to want to just give up when things are tough and not going your way. It’s the way you respond and show resilience that makes all the difference.

Putting in the work and staying consistent always pays off!

I am one of the coaches of my son’s travel baseball team. My son is almost 9 and it’s his first full year of kid pitch travel baseball. He has played with most of the kids on his team since he was 4. They all started out on a rec team together. Year to year you can see the improvement. Constant practice and playing for most of the year is our life right now. It’s so much different than when I was a kid. I played a lot of baseball, but only from April till August. These kids started in November and will play until the end of summer. Constant practice and games keep these kids consistent. They stay focused by doing things on a regular basis and it shows. Most of the things that we succeed at in life are done on a regular basis. We make a habit of them and they become a constant.

This past weekend we had another tournament for baseball. We played very well in pool play to earn the second seed to start the playoff/championship round. Sunday afternoon we were set to play the same team we beat the day before 5-4. It was a close game, but we played flat that game. The kids seemed pretty upbeat at the beginning of this game, but it didn’t start out the way we wanted it to. My son started the game pitching and was a little off with his location. He ended up giving up a 2 run home run in the 1st inning. Luckily we got out of it without going down by any more runs. He was down, but his teammates encouraged him as well as all of the coaches after getting out of the inning. The kids were off and losing most of the game. We entered the second to last inning down 7-3. The kids battled this inning getting timely hits and staying disciplined at the plate scoring 4 runs to tie it up! We would have scored 1 more if it wasn’t for me running my son into an out at third after a nice 2 run double. The last inning comes and the other team scored 2 runs to make it 9-7. Things just were not going our way. The rain came off and on and it was just a miserable feeling. The kids did not seem defeated though. They have been in this situation before! This is what they practice for each and every week. We ended up with bases loaded and 2 outs, a situation every athlete wants to be in! As a kid we always played and yelled out 2 outs bottom of the 9th bases loaded down by 1!. So who steps up to the plate? My son steps into the box ready and focused. First pitch is thrown and he swings out of his shoes! He was pumped up for this! I yell down from 3rd where I was coaching and tell him to relax, because a hit scores two! Next pitch comes and boom! He smokes this ball high in the air towards left center field. I knew it was gonna at least score two right? Then it keeps going and going and I yell “GET OUT OF HERE!” And the ball sailed over the fence! You would have thought I hit the ball because I was jumping up and down like a little kid screaming! As my son rounded 3rd he had the biggest smile on his face and it’s a moment I will never forget and cherish forever! I’m getting chills right now just typing this! The kids went crazy and it was just a great moment to be a part of! They won the game!


These kids never cease to amaze me! They showed me something that day that will always stick with me. Putting in the work and staying consistent will always pay off in the end. They never gave up on each other and they never quit. Even when my son gave up a home run in the first inning he kept his composure and stayed focused. Every single one of them contributed to that great victory!

I always like to bring things back to a situation related to physical therapy or situations in life in general. If we stay consistent with anything in life we are going to make our situation better. If we practice at something or make a habit of doing something on the regular it’s proven that you have a better chance of success. If you are trying to be more healthy then make a commitment to stick with a new way of eating and doing some sort of physical activity weekly. Do these things at the same time and same day to make a habit and stay consistent. When you make an appointment to come to physical therapy stick to it and commit to the full length of treatment sessions. Do your program at home and stay consistent. It’s proven to work because I saw it first hand this past weekend.

Ask questions and educate yourself before you get cut


Educating yourself as well as being educated about your body and some of the injuries that we have is very important. Google is a very powerful tool that we use for different things throughout the day. You hear people all the time saying, “Just google it!” It’s so easy isn’t it? It’s also very easy to ask questions about what is going on. When patients are seen by a physical therapist, a PCP, a surgeon or dentist questions should be asked by both the patient and practitioner. Communication is key to the success of the treatment set forth. As a practitioner you need to know details about what the patient is going through. You need to know what type of symptoms they are experiencing so your course of action will follow that. As a patient you need to know what is going on and what is going to be done about it. Do you think this is important?

I was just evaluating a patient after he had had shoulder surgery the other day. The script said eval and treat, status post right shoulder surgery. I had started talking to him about when his surgery was and asked him a few questions about what was done. I knew he did not have a rotator cuff repair, but I was unsure as to what was actually done because the script was so vague. I said what exactly did you have done to your shoulder? The patient looked at me with a straight face and said “ I have no idea what the doctor did he just told me I needed surgery.” WHAT????? Are you kidding me? I didn’t say that to the patient, but I was for sure thinking it. What kind of person would just take the doctors word for it and let them cut into their body part without even knowing what they were doing? It makes absolutely no sense to me. Now, I want to give the benefit of the doubt to the surgeon because I’m sure he explained something to him. Or did they?

This isn’t the first patient I’ve had like this and it wont be the last. Are they putting too much trust in their surgeon? I would say yes they are. I would never recommend to do a treatment on a patient without first explaining to them exactly what was going on and what we are trying to do to help it. Educating yourself about your condition through self searches and questions is highly recommended and a big key to help yourself get well. I’m not suggesting to self diagnose yourself. I am simply suggesting that you research your problem so you can have some sort of knowledge about your condition, then ask questions. Knowing exactly what is going on helps understand why things are being done. Don’t just let a medical professional treat you without knowing exactly what they are treating you for. We all have to be proactive in our care and take action to be more informed about what is being treated and why. This, in my opinion, will help clinician and patient relationships as well as trust. Educate yourself and stay informed, only good can come of it.

Practice, consistency and effort: All keys to have success

My son plays on 2 different baseball teams. He is on a travel team and an in-house athletic association team. For his travel team, we have been practicing in an indoor facility since late November. He is fortunate enough to play with most of the same kids for the past 3-4 years. They work well together and it shows. Since they started practicing until now there is a noticeable difference in their attitude, their work ethic, their desire and of course their overall ability! I’m one of the coaches, and it’s really amazing to see the transformation before your eyes with these kids! It’s truly something special. I can see that every single one of them has benefited from being on this team. You can see it from the pop of the mitt, the crisp and quick hands of a fielder and the sound of more and more solid contact of the bat! It wasn’t always like this though.

Rewind to November…and so it begins. Most of these kids play multiple sports, my son included. Flag and tackle football had just just ended and basketball was just about to get under way. Baseball seemed to be on the back burner for most. It usually is at that time of year. Practice started 2 days a week and only half the kids were ever there at one time for the first month and a half. It was frustrating at first because you could never really get the kids to gel. Even though these kids have all played with each other, there was just no consistency. And it showed in practice during drills and hitting exercises. You could tell which kids had been there more and which had not. It’s only natural that with consistency you improve. Over the next several months once basketball started to wind down is when it really started to show. You could just see it from practice to practice. Their attitudes changed, their ability to do things asked of them and the desire was there. Once we had a consistent bunch of kids who were committed and practiced together, is when they all started to gel together.

Just this past Saturday my sons in house team had their first practice. For most of the kids this was their first practice of the year. I am not a coach on this team, but I offered to help if needed. The coach talked to the kids at first and had them warm up. As they were warming up he stopped everyone and asked them to watch my sons mechanics on how he throws the ball. He said “everyone watch Caden and how he throws.” He wanted them to watch the entire motion through his follow through. He said that’s exactly how I want you guys to throw the ball. Great mechanics there! I’m always hard on my son with everything, and since baseball has been my passion since I was 5 I am extra hard on him with this! I thought, wow he is using my son as an example to all the players on what to do! Later on in the practice I was helping hit ground balls to the kids. I didn’t say much a I was just observing the team and what kids needed help with. The coach from time to time would jump in and tell a kid to do something different. When I coach for our travel team I am constantly correcting form, the way kids take a ground ball, throwing mechanics and everything in between. Like I said, I am extra hard on my son! What Dad isn’t hard on their kid? So I decided since I didn’t know very many people on this team I would just help and sit back. I was shocked, amazed and PROUD all at the same time! Not once did I have to correct my son! I mean I was really shocked that I didn’t have to even yell his name. Those that coach with me will tell you they hear me yell CADEN all the time during practice. I saw everything that we practiced so hard during the winter and more. He did everything that I normally have to correct him on! And to top it off he was instructing kids on how to do things better turning double plays! It was a very proud moment for me as a Dad!

I always try and take things back to how it pertains to Physical Therapy. This example is no different. My title for this blog post is practice, consistency and effort. Practice makes “BETTER” in my opinion. It never makes you perfect. There is always something that you can work on and something to improve on. Consistency with practice and technique will always help to focus on things that you are having difficulty with. The amount of Effort you put into something shows in your results. The more effort you put in, the better the results. If you truly want to get better, which I feel that every patient that comes to me does, then you have to take into account these 3 things. My son has shown me that with these 3 things he can do amazing things, and he is only almost 9! When I think about it though I wouldn’t expect anything less from him or my patients!

How much does weight really impact my joint health?


If you have the occasional twinge of pain in your knees, hips or even your back, it is your body’s way of warning you of a potential problem. Pain is your body’s way to tell you that something is wrong and you need to do something about it. Similar to an engine light coming on in your car, pain is indicating a possible problem. Now, what is the cause? There are multiple reasons why your body sends off pain signals. First, if you injure tissue your brain tells you that you are in pain. If you have bad posture, eventually you will feel pain. Our joints are designed to take a lot of pressure during different activities. But when that pressure is increased just the slightest it can cause an enormous chain reaction and your function can be lost. So how does increased body weight really impact our joints health?

Studies have shown that for every pound of excess weight exerts 4 pounds of pressure on your joints, your knees in particular. Let’s just think about that for a minute…if you are 10 pounds overweight you have 40 pounds of extra pressure on your knees. If you are 100 pounds overweight now you have 400 pounds of pressure on your knees!!! That’s a crazy statistic! Now, walking on a level surface puts a force equivalent to 1 ½ times your body weight normally with everyone. So if you weigh 200 pounds you are putting 300 pounds of pressure on your knees. If you add an incline, the pressure goes up. Going up and down a step increases this pressure 2 to 3 times. And squatting, a very functional activity that we all do on a day to day basis, can add up to 5 times your body weight of pressure. This is why it is so important to know what we are doing to our bodies and the affect a few extra pounds can have.  

What does this mean? Well, with increased pressure on joints this can lead to joint break down, in turn causing osteoarthritis. Obesity and being overweight is one of the leading risk factors of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused from wear and tear of joints. Once the cartilage is worn away this causes a bone on bone atmosphere which causes inflammation in the joint. Increased weight causes this breakdown to occur quicker than normal. And, pain levels can be even worse with those that already have osteoarthritis. Now you have an inflamed joint that is bearing 3-5 times the amount of pressure that it should.  

What can be done to avoid this? The simple answer is to lose some weight. Most people can afford to lose a few extra pounds. It’s easier said than done, I know. It all comes down to 2 questions. Is it important to you? And what are my goals? You really have to decide what is important to you. If not having pain is important to you, then this should be a priority. If being able to do any activity you want without pain, then this should be a priority. What are your goals? I would suggest setting small goals at first so that they can be easily reached. Seek out another partner to hold you accountable during your journey. In the long run it’s a life style change and it needs to be done in steps. Nobody ever said that getting to a healthy lifestyle is easy, but once you get there it is very easy to maintain that environment.  
So to sum it up, weight has a huge impact on your joint health. Your joints already have a great deal of pressure put on them when doing a specific activity. Adding any additional weight, just increases that pressure even more. This, in turn, can cause other issues such as osteoarthritis. Having a healthier lifestyle can and will prevent such things from happening and should be a priority.  

Do I have Peripheral Neuropathy?

My feet burn throughout the day. My hands gets tingling into the fingers when I’m sleeping. I have less feeling in my feet and sometimes they are cold. These are all things patients tell me in my office and wonder what it is that is causing these symptoms. Is it peripheral neuropathy? What is peripheral neuropathy? The name peripheral neuropathy states what it is in its name. Peripheral: meaning away from or beyond the brain and spinal cord, neuro meaning relating to the nerves, and pathy meaning disease. So a nerve related disease occurring away from the brain and spinal cord in short. Patients ask me all the time if I think they have this condition. Here is a little information about it and what type of symptoms patients have.

The peripheral nerves are a network that connects our spinal cord and brain to our skin, muscles and internal organs. These nerves arrange themselves along lines in the body called dermatomes. These dermatome patterns supply the feeling to certain parts of our body. If one or more are affected you can track the nerve root by the pattern of pain or numbness that you feel. Clinically this is how we can come up with a conclusion as to what nerve is being affected. Damage to these nerves takes away the communication pathway from the brain and other parts of your body. This in turn can cause impairments to our muscles and show signs of weakness. It can also cause sensation problems to our upper and lower extremities causing pain.

Types of Peripheral Neuropathy:

Mononeuropathy- Damage to a single peripheral nerve is called mononeuropathy. An injury or trauma to a certain area can cause this. Repetitive movements can also cause this type. Carpal Tunnel syndrome is a common example of a mononeuropathy. Other types are Radial and Ulnar nerve palsy. Numbness and weakness can be caused by these types of mononeuropathies.

Polyneuropathy- This accounts for the greatest number of peripheral neuropathy cases. This happens when multiple nerves in the body are affected at the same time. Causes are usually poor nutrition, alcohol abuse and diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common forms. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, loss of feeling and burning in the hands or feet. This can cause people to get burned very easily as well as develop wounds and not know about them. This is why diabetics are extra careful with protecting their feet.

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy: 

Acquired- meaning that is is caused by an environmental factor. Toxins, illness or an infection. Some examples are alcoholism, certain kinds of cancer and poor nutrition.

Hereditary- these types are genetically passed on from your parents.

Idiopathic- these are types that are from an unknown cause.

Knowing the symptoms can help a patients ability in taking care of themselves. Knowing what to do and how to treat is helpful too. If you or someone you know has symptoms similar to what is described above you should seek medical help. A neurologist would be the first medical professional to see. Neuropathy can be a very debilitating disorder, but if it is treated it can be managed.  

Can smoking affect the way my body heals itself?

Are you a smoker? Have you recently had surgery or an injury that just wasn’t healing in a normal time frame? Smoking might be the culprit. Just about everyone on earth knows the affects of cigarette smoke and how it can cause certain ailments and diseases. An estimated 15.1 % of U.S. adults aged 18 years or older smoke cigarettes. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking related disease (2). But do people know the affect cigarette smoke can have on the healing process in the body? What ways does it delay healing time and why it can take so much longer than most.

Deprives the body of Oxygen:

The air is filled with Oxygen and we breath it in all day long. Oxygen is needed for our body to function as well as heal tissue that is wounded. On a more scientific level, cigarette smoke causes many changes to the way our bodies handle oxygen. Hemoglobin is a molecule that transports oxygen throughout the body. Cigarette smoke affects it’s ability to carry the amount it normally needs to carry at one time. The blood vessels in the body also become more narrow not allowing the oxygen and hemoglobin to get to your healing tissue.(1)

Cigarette smoke thickens your blood as well. This makes it more difficult for the blood to run smoother throughout our bodies. Just think of it this way, you have car carrier ( Hemoglobin) carrying 8 cars (oxygen) a piece on a 4 lane highway (artery/veins) at an average speed of 65 MPH. Now it starts to snow (chemicals in cigarettes) and those car carriers can’t go through the storm so you have to get a tow truck that carries 2 cars a piece now. Your speed has now decreased to 45 MPH. Less cars will get to the dealership (healing tissue) and it will take twice as long to get there. With a decreased amount of oxygen, the tissues have a difficult time healing in the allotted time.

Weakens the Immune system:

In addition, cigarette smoke has been shown to make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection after surgery. The chemicals in cigarettes prevent neutrophils, infection fighting cells, from working properly. Neutrophils are our guards that create a safe environment by getting rid of things that don’t belong in our body, such as bacteria. This in turn causes a greater risk to develop infection.(2)

There is some good news from all of this though. Research has shown that quitting smoking before surgery reduces your risk of complications. It is very difficult to stop smoking, but even a 4-6 week period shows a dramatic decrease in risk factors. Now you might say what if I had a fracture and needed surgery immediately? I don’t have time to quit. Quitting for 4-8 weeks while your fracture is healing has also shown great benefits in the healing process.

Quitting smoking or any nicotine product is a very difficult process. I know from experience. I chewed snuff for 14 years. I tried to quit on multiple occasions and nothing seemed to work, but then my son was born! I made a promise to myself that I would quit for him and for my family. 9 years later I don’t even miss it! In fact it kind of makes me sick to even smell it. Sometimes the big picture just makes sense.

References: 

1. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/how-to/foot-health/Pages/How-Smoking-Affects-Healing.aspx

2. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/
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My low back pain experience with weekend DIY!

I’m pretty handy and I love DIY projects at home! My wife and I basically remodeled our entire first house that we owned. Some would say we only work well together for a short amount of time because we both want to be in charge. We all know that she is always in charge…shhhhhhh don’t tell her I said that! After fixing our house just the way we wanted it we outgrew it and decided to move. Isn’t that how it always works? A little over 4 years ago we decided to build a house to our exact liking so that we would not have to do any remodeling. Well, 2 storage areas, a laundry room, a shed, and 2 bathrooms later we are still looking at projects that we want to do. Oh, I painted the entire house as well. As I look at the projects that I have completed it makes me feel good knowing that I am able to do these things. I have always said if I was not a Physical Therapist I would have probably followed in my grandfathers footsteps as a carpenter! But it seems that every time I do a project I suffer for a few days or weeks afterwards. Whether it is from carpal tunnel in my hand after running an impact drill for 2 days straight, or shoulder pain from painting all weekend. There always seems to be something that triggers a pain in my body. Even though I know how to properly do things, I can still slip up and get lazy.

My latest DIY project at home was to redo our hallway bathroom. My 6 year old daughter calls it her bathroom. We had never done anything with it and it still had the original paint…very boring. My wife and I watch a lot of HGTV and our show of choice is Fixer Upper. Of course my wife wants everything they do. The thing she wanted the most…SHIPLAP! For those that don’t know what ship lap is, it’s planks of wood hung horizontal on the wall. They come in all shapes and sizes as well as thickness. We decided to go with 1”x6” planks. She wanted it half way up the wall to be even with the countertop of the sink. We also decided on a new paint color as well as trim for the bottom and around the window. We bought most of the material 2 weeks ago and then I was off to bring out my inner Chip and Joanna!

It took me about a week to finish the project mostly because I started on a Sunday. As I started the project it was mostly painting which was not a problem. Hell, I’m like a pro now I don’t even have to use tape for trim work. Once I started to measure out different pieces of shiplap to cut I noticed as the day went on my low back started to bother me. I really didn’t think anything of it because I attributed it to what I was doing. I just wanted to get it done and didn’t even pay attention to it. These are all things I tell my patients to avoid and here I am not practicing what I always preach. It happens to the best of us. The next 2 days I was unable to work on the project because of my work schedule as well as my sons baseball practices. What I did notice was increased back pain throughout the day. The good thing is I’m a Physical Therapist and I was able to treat it at work as well as at home. By the end of the week I had a lot of relief and then I started working again. After about 30 minutes of constant bending to measure and cut wood I began to feel the pain again. This time I was smart and did what I tell my patients. I took a break, did a few different techniques and got back to work. I was more aware of what I was doing as well as bracing my core when bending and lifting things. I decided to make a small list of what you can do during those DIY projects. These techniques are great to prevent injuries so you don’t have to totally stop your project.



Brace your core:

This is probably the most important thing to do when you are bending over a lot as well as lifting things from any height. When I explain to people what to do it’s simple. Imagine you are going to get punched in the stomach and brace your abs. After this is established you want to engage your pelvic floor. With this imagine what it is like driving on the highway and you have to pee. You engage your pelvic floor by holding your pee. Do both of these at the same time when you are doing a lot of bending. And always do this when lifting something.

Lift with proper technique:

I use the acronym A SAFE LIFT

A: Always communicate

You want to always communicate especially if you are doing a lift with someone else. But even if you are lifting something small communication as to where you are putting it is key.

S: Stagger your feet

When approaching anything to lift off of the floor you want to stagger your feet to get a better stance and base of support.

A: Abdominal Squeeze

Just as above you want to brace your core before any and all lifts.

F: Flex your knees

Don’t bend with your back when getting down to the floor. Always flex your knees to get closer to the object you are trying to lift.

E: Easy movement

The movement lifting should be easy. If you are struggling to even lift it a few inches off of the ground it is too heavy.

L:Lock lumbar spine

Again this goes with bracing your core, but you also want to keep extension in your lumbar spine so that you are not predisposing yourself to injury.

I: Imagine the move

This is very important because it will make you visualize what the move will look like and prepare you for what you are going to do.

F: Face the load/hold close

Make sure you are always facing the load and you pull it close to your body when you lift it.

T: Toes follow nose

Make sure you are not twisting your body or torso. Your toes follow the way your nose goes.

Hamstring stretching: 

Stretching your hamstrings is a very important thing to do. Tight hamstrings can lead to lower back pain so in turn we should all make sure that we loosen them before, during and after activity.

To stretch your hamstring you can do it multiple ways. First you can lay on your back and put a strap or long towel around the bottom of your foot across your arch. Keep your back flat on the floor and both legs straight. Pull your leg with the strap up in the air keeping it from bending until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold it for 20 seconds and do that 5 times.

Another way to stretch your hamstrings is to stand with your feet together and reach for your toes. Keep your knees straight and make sure you feel a stretch in your hamstrings or the back of your legs. Again, hold this for 20” x 5.
Projects at home are great and they make you feel that you have accomplished something. However, if you are not careful you will wind up on the couch in pain. The above activities are suggestions to try and prevent as well as help with low back pain. The best way to treat it as well as prevent it is to see a Physical Therapist.  
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Having trouble staying motivated? Try these tips to stay on track!


It can be very hard to stay motivated about things, whether you are in the middle of a fitness program, trying to lose weight or even trying to keep up with your exercise program at Physical Therapy. It’s hard to stay at a consistent pace because things tend to get harder each day and week. We all start off the same with anything new. We are very excited to see the results of hard work. Then we hit a wall and we plateau. We lose interest very easily and start to go off course. Then the excuses come: “I just got so busy and I couldn’t find time.” “After 3-4 weeks it just wasn’t working for me.” “My body is just meant to be in the position that it is I; it runs in my family.” Do any of these sound familiar? They do to me and I have found myself saying one of these a time or two. Being a Physical Therapist I deal with excuses like this all of the time from patients. I wanted to put a little list together of ways to stay motivated. I myself use some of these to stay on task.

Write down weekly and monthly goals:

Writing down your goals makes it that more real. It makes you accountable for what you say you want to do. If you hang them somewhere you will see them each day. It will make you more aware and want to accomplish them.

Surround yourself with like minded people:

Surrounding yourself with people that have the same vision as you can be the difference between a win or a lose. When you surround yourself with these kind of people your mindset shifts. This also holds you accountable to what you have set forth. If you are always around “Debbie Downers”, then you are going to be more apt to act like them.

Be patient:

You have to be patient. Things take time, especially if it’s something new. Everyone that starts a new exercise program or tries to lose weight wants results yesterday. Nothing in life works that way. You have to stay focused and keep your eye on the prize. Remember steady and slow wins the race.

Reach out to others for support:

This also goes back to surrounding yourself with like minded individuals. It helps to have support of others that are going through what you are. I always encourage my patients to talk to each other about what they are coming to PT for. Tell them your story, and what you have done to try and convince yourself you are getting better. Having others to bounce things off of can help keep you focused and motivated to continue.

Read and listen to personal development:

This is a big one, especially for me!! I have never read more personal development books than I have in the last 6-8 months. It helps me stay grounded. It shifts your mindset from “it can’t be done” to “let’s do this!” Personal development in my opinion should be something that everyone should work on. It gives you a sense of direction, greater resilience, improved focus and of course motivation to want to succeed.

Give yourself breaks:

There are going to be times when you want to give up and you feel overwhelmed. Burn out can happen, so you have to give yourself breaks. Take a day or two to refocus on what you originally started for. Rethink your goals and what you eventually want to do. Go out with your spouse, significant other or friend. We all need breaks from time to time.

Make sure to reward yourself:

You have to reward yourself every now and then. If you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle you need to be able to splurge on a meal you normally wouldn’t eat. If you are working towards a particular fitness goal you should reward yourself with something that makes you feel good. When my patients accomplish something or are doing well I always tell them reward yourself today you did great! When you reward yourself it helps remind you why you are doing this in the first place.

Sustaining motivation can be tough under the best circumstances. It’s not magic and it is not something you can just drink out of a bottle, but it is something that you can tap into when you feel like giving up. The next time you feel like you are losing motivation try these simple steps to keep yourself on track.
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The effect a thank you can have…

Last Thursday was a long day for me at work. It’s usually one of the days I work 12 hours. By the end of the day I was exhausted mentally and physically for some reason. I am used to working longer days because it comes with the territory of working in outpatient Physical Therapy. This day for some reason was just longer than usual. I had an unusual amount of cancels because we had just had a snow storm the night before. And for those who know southwestern PA, people will use snow as an excuse to miss just about anything, Physical Therapy being one of them. I was on my way home from work listening to one of my favorite podcasts: The Physical Therapy Business School by Paul Gaugh. As I came to a stop sign another car got to the opposing one just after I did. I flicked my lights to tell him go ahead and of course they did. The next thing that came was not a shock, but a reminder…he flicked his lights back as he went through the intersection. The universal sign of thank you in car talk! It dawned on me that having someone say or gesture thank you can go a long way. It makes you feel good to do something for someone and they return their gratitude.
I work in a field of helping people every single day. Every person that comes through the doors of my clinic is going to be helped in some way, shape or form. Sometimes I even inadvertently help the parent, caretaker or significant other all while helping my patient. In return I always receive a thank you! If you think about it, I get a thank you between 14-30 times a day! A DAY! That’s crazy to me! Some people get a thank you maybe once a day at most, sometimes once a week or month, but 14-30 times a day is just insane!  

My intersection thank you reminded me of how lucky I am to work in the field that I do. It reminded me that just a simple thank you can have a huge effect on someone. Think about it for a second…how does it make you feel when you do something nice for someone? When you give someone a present and they light up with excitement and say THANK YOU! It’s one of the best feelings in the world! I get to have that experience on a daily basis! Especially when I am discharging someone that initially had a rough start and can now walk and play with their kids again!  
The reason I got into the field of physical therapy was to help people. I wanted to make people well. I wanted to get people back to what they wanted to do. I never once wanted anything in return from them. I still don’t, other than for them to do their program at home!  
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