A Healthy Heart: Walking and Easy Stretches

Although American Heart Month has come and gone, it is still important to keep in mind EVERY month why we acknowledge the importance of heart health and ways to keep our hearts healthy. One way to help reduce our risk of developing heart disease is to maintain a physically active lifestyle. Walking is one easy way to achieve the recommended 30 minutes of activity per day. Not only is it important to incorporate physical activity into your every day routine, it is also important to maintain a flexible lower extremity to help reduce your risk of injury and keep you active!   In our PT Minute series, Physical Therapy First’s Dr. Alex Tan, PT, DPT, demonstrates three of his favorite stretches that target your lower extremity to perform during your cool down after walking: PTtip Stretches

Stretches for After a Daily Walk:

  • Standing Calf Stretch
  • Standing Quad Stretch
  • Hip Flexor Stretch

Recommended Guidelines:

  • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Remember to perform the stretches with both your right and left legs.
  • Repeat each stretch for a total of 3 times per side.

Heart Health Tip

Another key factor for one’s heart health and overall health in general is maintaining a balanced nutrient-rich diet. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate a lot of fruits and vegetables into your food! The recommended serving of fruits and vegetables varies for each individual based on total caloric consumption. Factors that infuence this are age, activity level, gender, weight. One important thing to keep in mind is maintaining variety within your consumption! This means branching out and trying a wide range of different options for your body to reap the benefits of various vitamins and minerals.

Healthy Diet

An easy way to incorporate vegetables into your diet is by adding them to sandwiches. You don’t have to stick to just lettuce and tomato. Get creative and add on other great options such as shredded carrots, sprouts, sliced beets, cucumber, or zucchini! Extra vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, or broccoli, can even be added to homemade pastas, soups, or pizzas as an easy way to eat more vegetables. Incorporating fruit into foods like whole-grain oatmeal, waffles, or cereal can be an easy way to get a serving of fruit with breakfast. One example of a creative way to eat a serving of fruit is to blend together plain Greek yogurt with your favorite frozen fruit of choice to create a dessert-like treat!

If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with one of our physical therapists to help with your mobility or with creating a ‘heart healthy’ aerobic exercise plan, give our office a call today at 1-855-PT-First!

*As a reminder, always discuss any questions or concerns with your physician regarding your own health and dietary needs, as the information written should not replace any medical advice.


American Heart Assocation. (2014). Why walking. Retrieved from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Why-Walking_UCM_461770_Article.jsp#.Vs4FRBzxJC9

American Heart Association. (2014). About Fruits and Vegetables. Retrieved from:


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2016. Variety. Retrieved from: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/variety

Tips for Sitting on an Exercise Ball

For the last topic in our workplace wellness series, today’s post will highlight the added benefit of sitting on an exercise ball throughout your workday. If you missed the last two posts featuring tips to staying healthy at work and tips on how to help minimize jaw clenching and relieve tension headaches, you can check them out here:

Helpful Tips to Stay Healthy at Work

Tips for Jaw Clenching and Tension Headaches



Sitting with good posture is important to help reduce both muscle imbalances and added strain on your body. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of your posture throughout your workday. Remember to take frequent breaks to stand up and walk around. In our PT Minute series, Dr. Maureen Ambrose, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT highlights the benefits of sitting on an exercise ball and offers her own tips on how to safely incorporate sitting on one throughout your workday:

Exercise Ball PTtip

In summary, Dr. Ambrose encourages you to keep these tips in mind, if you are considering using an exercise ball as a chair:

  • Choose an exercise ball that is the right size for you based on your height.
  • Ensure a proper set up by sitting on the ball with a 90-degree angle between your trunk, legs, and knees.
  • If you are not used to sitting on an exercise ball, ease into sitting on one by starting with an hour at a time, for example. This will help to slowly build up your tolerance.
  • Adjust your workstation downward (i.e. your desk and keyboard) to ensure you’re in a safe ergonomic position.


The Most Important Meal of the Day

Another tip to stay healthy in the workplace is to start your day with a nourishing breakfast. If you find yourself crunched for time in the morning, prepare your breakfast the night before. You could also take advantage of this time to make your lunch for the next day. This will  eliminate the temptation to skip breakfast altogether or grab something unhealthy for convenience. A balanced, nutrient-filled breakfast should include an adequate amount of lean protein, low-fat dairy, fiber, and whole grains, and will help keep you feeling full and energized until your next meal.

An example of an easy, yet nutritious, breakfast packed with vitamins and minerals is whole grain oats cooked in low-fat milk topped with nut butter or nuts (i.e. almonds or walnuts) and fruit such as bananas, apples, or berries. A dash of cinnamon and vanilla extract can enhance the flavor of your oatmeal as well!

Remember to keep the above tips in mind. Our physical therapists can work with you to create a proper workplace setup to help prevent or reduce ergonomic related pain. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with one of our physical therapists, give our office a call today at 855-PT-FIRST!


American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). (n.d.) Workplace wellness. Retrieved from: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Detail/workplace-wellness

APTA. (2012). Physical therapist’s guide to carpal tunnel syndrome. Retrieved from: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.aspx?cid=9f3cdf74-3f6f-40ca-b641-d559302a08fc

United States Department of Agriculture. (2016). MyPlateMyWins. Retrieved from: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/misc/dietaryguidelines/MyPlateMyWins.pdf


*As a reminder, always discuss any questions or concerns with your physician regarding your health, as the information written should not replace any medical advice.

Tips for Jaw Clenching and Tension Headaches

Keeping with the theme of workplace wellness, as highlighted in our last blog post featuring tips for staying healthy at work, another area to consider is one that you may not have thought of while working: jaw clenching. Jaw clenching can be a common problem for individuals under stress, and often times, jaw clenching can lead to headaches. Tension headaches are one of the most common complaints (APTA, 2011). Therefore, it’s important to be proactive by determining the cause of your headaches. Understanding the underlying causes can help mitigate the effects on your daily life and work performance.

If you find yourself clenching your jaw, consider keeping these tips in mind to help relax your facial and jaw muscles from one of our physical therapists, Maureen Ambrose, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT : PTtip Jaw Clenching Video

Causes of Jaw Tension

Another common cause of tension headaches is poor posture, especially when sitting. Modifying your workstation can help to improve your posture. Ultimately, this will prevent tension headaches by reducing pressure in your jaw and neck muscles. A few simple tips (APTA, 2011) include:

  • Keeping your computer screen in a position that is no lower than eye level.
  • Using a headset rather than a regular phone to help prevent added tension to your neck muscles.

Other Ways to Relieve Jaw Tension

Finally, incorporating softer foods into your diet can give your jaw a chance to relax. A few healthy soft food ideas include Greek yogurt, which is a great protein source, homemade fruit smoothies, and soft fruits. For a creative way to incorporate soft vegetables into your diet, try making mashed cauliflower. Start by pureeing cooked cauliflower and adding your favorite spices, which will give you a mashed potato-like dish, which is perfect to serve as a healthy side dish for you and your family.

Remember to keep these tips in mind, and if you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with one of our physical therapists, give us a call at 855-PT-FIRST today!


American Physical Therapy Association. (APTA). (2011). Physical Therapist’s Guide to Headaches. Retrieved from: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.aspx?cid=fd8a18c8-1893-4dd3-9f00-b6e49cad5005

*As a reminder, always discuss any questions or concerns with your medical physician regarding your health and dietary needs, as the information written should not replace any medical advice.

Helpful Tips to Stay Healthy at Work

Get Moving

It’s no surprise that repeatedly sitting for prolonged periods of time can negatively affect the body. Sitting too much can result in muscle aches, stiffness, pain, and possibly injury. In fact, a lack of mobility can lead to poor blood circulation to your joints and muscles. This can result in inhibited flexibility and strength. However, there ARE ways to help negate these effects. Check out these tips to stay healthy during the workday!

Helpful Tips

If you find yourself having to sit for extended periods of time, then you’ll want to keep these tips in mind throughout the day (APTA, n.d.):

  • Take frequent small breaks by getting up from your chair throughout your day. This will break up the time you are sitting. For example, take a trip to the water fountain,  or simply take a short walk around the office.
  • To stretch your neck, gently turn your head slowly from left to right. To relieve shoulder tension, slowly roll your shoulders backwards.
  • If working on a computer, make sure the monitor is directly in front of you with the top of the monitor positioned at eye level. Keep the monitor at a distance that allows you to view the screen without having to hunch over or lean backward.
  • If possible, use a desk with a keyboard tray. A keyboard on top of your desk is typically too high for most people. This can cause you to extend your arms or raise your shoulders, which causes tension.
  • Use a desk that’s at an appropriate height for you to position your knees under the keyboard tray or desk.
  • If you can, use a chair that includes adjustable arm rests and adjustable height to help you to comfortably sitting close to your desk.

And finally, here at Physical Therapy First, we will be offering #PTFtip videos on our PTF Youtube channel! In this video, Maureen Ambrose, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, offers her posture tips when sitting: PTtip Posture Video



Healthy nutrition is another important component to overall wellness in the workplace. A few simple changes to your workday can go a long way in bettering your health. For example, pack your lunch instead of buying take-out. You’ll not only have control over the ingredients and portion size of your meal, but you’ll also save yourself money. A good example of an easy, yet nutrient dense lunch is a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread. You could also add sliced avocado and fresh vegetables like spinach, tomato, or cucumber. Pair this with a side of fruit and you have yourself a nutritious meal filled with vitamins and minerals, lean protein, fiber, healthy fats, and whole grains!

Try to keep healthy snacks with you at work when hunger strikes. Some great options include Greek yogurt without added sugars, or fresh or dried fruit (where the only ingredient is the fruit itself). Other nutritious snacks include a serving of nuts like almonds or pistachios,  pre-cut veggies like carrots or celery sticks with hummus, or natural peanut/almond butters.


If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with one of our physical therapists to help with your mobility, give our office a call at 855-PT-First today!


American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). (n.d.) Workplace wellness. Retrieved from: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Detail/workplace-wellness

*As a reminder, always discuss any questions or concerns with your physician, as the information written should not replace any medical advice.



Fall Prevention and Safety During Icy Conditions

Although it may not feel like winter outside with the unusually mild temperatures, the winter season is technically upon us and we may find ourselves facing icy conditions during the next few months. Of course, it is best to avoid walking on ice altogether, as many winter weather injuries occur from falls on ice covered areas. However, it’s always best to be prepared in case we do have to face such conditions. Physical Therapy First’s Maureen Ambrose, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, offers some of her own tips on fall prevention during icy conditions below.

Fall Prevention Tips

  1. Many falls on ice happen when getting out of the car. Look down for ice and hold onto the car door when placing your foot down at first.
  1. When walking on ice, take small steps and keep your center of balance over your feet.
  1. If you are falling, avoid reaching out with your hand to prevent wrist, elbow, and shoulder injury. Tuck your chin to your chest and roll to your side to take the impact.

Protect Yourself with Bone Health

In addition to the tips above, it’s important to also keep in mind that consuming a healthy balanced diet with an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D will help preserve your bone health. Calcium is stored in our bones and teeth keeping our bones strong and dense, while vitamin D is what helps our bodies absorb calcium. Building and maintaining strong healthy bones will aid in your fall prevention efforts, and, ultimately, help reduce your risk of fracture and injury.

Some ideas for foods that are natural sources of calcium include dairy products (i.e. milk, yogurt, cheeses), leafy green vegetables (i.e. kale, broccoli, cabbage), fruits like oranges and figs, and legumes such as white beans and black-eyed peas. Even canned seafood, in particular salmon and sardines, provide an excellent amount of calcium. A helpful tip if you’re unsure whether or not a food contains calcium or vitamin D is to read the nutritional facts, as the percentage of vitamins and minerals per serving, will be listed at the bottom!

Stay safe this season and remember to keep these tips in mind during the approaching winter months!


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (2012). The Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis: What It Means To You. Retrieved from:http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/SGR/surgeon_generals_report.asp#r

CDC. (2012). Outdoor Safety. Retrieved from: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/duringstorm/outdoorsafety.asp

HHS. (2014). Calcium and bones. Retrieved from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002062.htm

National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2013). Calcium. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/

*As a reminder, always discuss any questions or concerns with your physician regarding your health, as the information written should not replace any medical advice.

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