Should I Stretch Before I Exercise?

man running on side of road

Stretching is something that we have been taught to do ever since our physical education classes growing up. Static stretching of holding a particular stretch for 30-60 seconds has been highly debated over the past few years. Research now shows that a static stretching prior to exercise can negatively affect your muscles power, strength, and overall performance.

Dynamic stretching consists of active movements that elicit a stretch, but are not held for any length of time. Through repetitive movements, it helps prepare your muscles and joints for your workout. By properly warming up your body prior to exercise, it can help decrease your risk of injury. One of the benefits to dynamic stretching, is that it can be individualized based on your activity. A runner’s dynamic stretching would look very different compared to a cyclist’s due to the different movements required for each sport. Talk to your physical therapist today about an appropriate dynamic stretching routine you can incorporate for your specific exercise goals.

by Lisa Martens, DPT


Occupational therapist assisting patient with ball exercise for trunk stability

People don’t touch a hot stove and go back and touch it again. When it hurts to move after an injury the tendency is to stop moving. This can lead to fear and avoidance of movement which can be detrimental to recovery. We tend to direct our attention to pain and this actually increases our pain and leads to avoidance. When people stop doing the activity that they enjoy they can get depressed and quickly roll into the vicious cycle of chronic pain.

Movement promotes blood flow and helps normalize the tissue. Occasionally the physician recommends non-weightbearing or temporary rest and it is important to follow instructions. However, after the recommended rest period is over it is important to resume activity.

Begin slowly with activities that are meaningful to you. Walk the dog for half a block or stand long enough to prepare a light meal. Set realistic goals for yourself to move towards being able to do the activities that are important to you. It is frightening to move when you hurt so be sure to relax your muscles and your mind before you attempt activity so that you’re not increasing your pain by tensing your muscles. Breathe. A physical or occupational therapist at Saunders Therapy Centers can help you to gauge your activity appropriately, and soon you’ll be moving again!

by Cathy Piela, OTR/L

Physical Therapy FIRST for Low Back Pain!

occupational therapist palpating upper back muscles during patient exercise

When you need help for back pain, who do you think of first? A recent study* showed that patients who saw a physical therapy FIRST for back pain experienced significantly lower total costs compared with both the no-PT and PT-later groups, including lower out-of-pocket expenses. PT-first patients had significantly lower rates for emergency room visits, imaging, and opioid prescriptions compared with the other groups.

In Minnesota, you can self-refer for physical therapy – you do not always need a physician’s referral, and we are skilled at determining when help from your medical doctor is necessary. Call us to find out if physical therapy is the right FIRST STEP for you!

*Study sponsored by Health Care Cost Institute: