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Cardiovascular Disease

Ben EgglestonCardiovascular disease (CVD) is the cause of 1 in every 3 deaths, each year in the US.1 There are many known risk factors that contribute to CVD.

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Rebekah GlassRunning is a means to good health for many, it can be a stress reliever for some, or pure enjoyment for those running enthusiasts! As a physical therapist and gait analysis specialist I want to keep runners running healthy and for years to come. However, this population tends to see a high percentage of injuries. So I have a question:

To all the runners out there…Do you strength train?

Published in Blog
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Staying Active During Pregnancy

pregnant 4I wanted to take this opportunity to connect with my fellow women who are currently pregnant, and let you know that you are not alone. I am speaking specifically to those who have historically always been very active and are now finding themselves forced to slow down due to the immensely wonderful and yet altogether difficult task of growing another human being.

What an amazing process! The way a woman’s body will change and adapt to this new tiny life that has taken up residence on the inside. It knows exactly what to do to support that life (even if you don’t have a clue!) and give the little one exactly what it needs to survive until it is able to survive (with lots of help) on the outside of our bodies. The unfortunate part is that this amazing and difficult experience is not always a pleasant one for the mommies.

My pregnancy started as many do… nauseous, hungry and fatigued beyond anything I had ever comprehended. Within the first 3 months, it was all I could do to get through a day at work. When I finally made it home in the afternoons, I would down some very bland foods (ie, eggs, toast, and breakfast cereals) I found my pjs and climbed into bed, praying my dinner would not make a second appearance.

And getting a workout in? Forget it! The thought alone of moving more than I had to made me want to throw up. Now that I am out of that dreaded first trimester, I am feeling better (week 23). However, as hard as I have tried, I have not been able to keep up with my pre-pregnancy workout schedule.

Published in Blog
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Family Fitness

Childhood obesity is on the rise as children spend less time being active and too much time watching TV or playing video games. If you are an engaged parent, it is hard to miss this information. The news reports it, parenting magazines write about it, and teachers and physicians send information home about how inactive and unhealthy kids are these days.

As parents we want what is best for our kids, but balancing work and family schedules can be challenging. So how can we make sure that we are giving our families the best opportunities for a healthy active life now and into the future?

RS2051 Doctors WEBFirst, some facts:

  • Childhood obesity is on the rise
  • Over a 32-year period (1980-2012), there was an 11% increase in obesity for ages 6-11 and 16% for ages 12-19;
  • More than one-third of children and adolescents is classified as overweight or obese;
  • The annual cost of obesity in the United States is $14 billion;
  • Overweight children and adolescents have a 70% greater chance of becoming overweight adults.

How can you prevent your child from becoming an obesity statistic?  The best advice out there regarding family fitness is to model what you want for your kids. Again, as with most parenting tasks, finding the balance in life to include exercise for yourself and your family can be difficult.

Published in Blog
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The Fight Against Parkinson’s

BalanceVestibularRehab 550x450 3I was struggling to come up with a blog topic this time around.  It seems as if I always come back to balance-related topics; whether it’s balancing your body through diet or exercise.  So here you have it, another discussion on balance!  This one in particular was very inspiring to me and hopefully will inspire you or someone you know as well.

I woke up Sunday morning and found myself hooked watching a special on CBS Sunday Morning (not a show I typically watch).  This episode was regarding a specific treatment called Rock Steady Boxing for those battling Parkinson’s Disease.  

Earlier in my schooling and career I performed research, had publications and became certified as an LSVT-BIG therapist for management of Parkinson’s Disease.  While watching this video on CBS, I couldn’t help but compare it to my background knowledge in Parkinson’s and training in LSVT-BIG, which closely resembles many of the treatment principles used in Rock Steady Boxing.

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Pure Barre “Utilizing the ballet barre to perform small isometric movements set to fantastic music, Pure Barre is a total body workout that lifts your seat, tones your thighs, abs, and arms, and burns fat in record- breaking time.”

          Exercise has always been very important to me. I played basketball and soccer in high school and college. After college I started running long distance and participated in various races. Two years ago I was in the best shape of my life and “successfully” finished my first marathon. Needless to say, I always made time for exercise in my day. 

Then, I had a baby 10 months ago. And I lost my motivation to exercise. I had a long list of excuses…. I’m tired, too out of shape, not enough time in my day. 

I really wanted to tone my body but wasn’t sure where to start. Then Katy Lewis, a patient of mine, mentioned she went to Pure Barre during and after her pregnancies. She encouraged me to try it out. Katy is a busy mom of 2 girls as well as just opening up her own company doing legal recruitment. I thought, if she can make time in her day, so can I!

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snow runningTo combat the winter blues and maintain fitness this winter, why not try a winter sport?  Change up the gym routine, or instead of dreading the cold, embrace it and work up a sweat outside.  There are several local options in the greater Grand Rapids area to enjoy trails, runs, and rent equipment. 


Snowshoeing: 476 calories/hour.  Rent at Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus, Grand Rapids; Hemlock Crossing Park between Grand Haven and Holland.  Check out links below for many local trail and park options in both Kent and Ottawa counties.  A decent pair of snowshoes can also be purchased for $100 or less.


Cross Country Skiing: 400-550 calories/hour.  Rentals: Pando Park, Rockford; Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus, Grand Rapids.  See trail maps below, or head to Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery for free use of trails with your own (or rented) equipment.


skiingDownhill Skiing and Snowboarding: 270-340 calories/hour.  Rentals and Runs: Pando Park, Rockford or Cannonsburg, Belmont.  Pando Park is an all tow rope resort with 8+ main runs including a bunny hill and beginner through advanced slopes. Cannonsburg features 10 lifts and 20 runs from beginner to advanced, including 3 chair lifts, 6 rope tows and one Magic Carpet.  Both ski areas have terrain parks.

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Keeping The Commitment

f0bc49e6fd2d110c184e57f62b8d3248Mandy blogDid you make a New Year’s Resolution to get fit?  Lose weight?  Save more money?  The number of Americans who make New Year's resolutions is around 40 percent.  Each year, that's tens of millions of Americans who plan to change something about their behavior. And research from the University of Scranton states that 77 percent of those studied kept their resolutions for a full week, 55 percent kept them through one month, and by 6 months, only 40 percent were still working towards their goals.

Although I don’t often make a New Year’s Resolution, I usually step up my work outs after too many Christmas cookies.  After all the busyness of the Holiday season, it is nice to get back on track and hit the “reset” button. 

I am a firm believer in practicing what you preach.  The clinicians at CPR are continuously instructing patients in exercises for home and asking them to fit these new programs into their lives.  Even with work, ­school-aged kids and all their activities, and everything else that life brings, I make it a priority to fit in work outs.  If you happen to be in one of our clinics over the lunch hour, you will often see many of us taking our turn in the gym.

Published in Blog
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Running Transitions for Spring


As the weather gradually warms and the snow begins to melt, runners stray away from their treadmills and flock to the sidewalks and trails. While the fresh air may feel great during your run outdoors, our bodies may not be prepared for the transition. Unfortunately, running on the treadmill does not adequately prepare us for a run outdoors. Here are some facts to be aware of as you begin your outdoor training.

The first difference to be aware of in your transition from the treadmill to the outdoors is the variance in terrain. Obviously, while running on a treadmill, there is little worry of running into obstacles during your run. However, while running outdoors, there are many terrain variances to be aware of including the following:

  • Hills demanding increased exertion
  • Ice and snow patches during the early spring months
  • Uneven ground if running on trails

Published in Blog
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You Have to Move to Improve

You have to move to improve. For some people, especially those having chronic or persistent pain, this is easier said than done. Sometimes a person has so much pain they are unable to participate in everyday activities. There are, however, some techniques out there to help these people. Immersion in warm water as well as breathing, relaxation, meditation, laughter and music may help to calm the central nervous system allowing people with persistent pain to improve their quality of life.

Pain is a warning system designed to protect us and to make us react to danger or potential danger.  When nerves are stimulated, chemicals are released and transmitted to the spinal cord and brain. Pain only exists when the brain concludes the body is in danger and action is required. All pain is generated by the brain. All pain is real. In people who have persistent pain, it is the potential for tissue damage that the brain is concerned with.  The result is an over sensitive central nervous system. Pain then becomes restrictive, not protective.

The good news is that a hyper sensitive, over-responsive pain alarm system can be retrained with relaxation, breathing techniques and exercise. Laughter can also be a great tool in breaking through some of the restrictions that pain can create. A lesser known fact is that laughter promotes healthier blood vessels. Artery diameter increases by 22% during laughter and is decreased by 35% during mental stress. Also, by performing exercise in warm water a person with persistent pain may be able to help calm this overactive central nervous system. Here are some of the benefits of warm water exercise.

  • Gravity is reduced /eliminated depending on the depth of the water
  • When movement stops, the workload immediately stops
  • Pain, stiffness and muscle guarding are reduced
  • The touch, temperature and pressure of the water will compete with the pain signals going to the brain
  • Repetitive and comfortable movement helps to normalize input to the brain
  • Balance, core strength, stability and gait can be comfortably retrained using the water as an external support

According to the American Chronic Pain Association, chronic pain is the #1 cause of adult disability and affects 50 million people in the United States. If you are one of these people you may want to try some of the techniques listed above to help you deal with your pain and improve your quality of life.

Aquatic Therapy Rehab Institute Chronic Pain Specialty Course

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