October 27, 2015 | by Edessa "Dechie" Bello-Rapoport PT, MBA, CertMDT, FACHE

Physical therapists offer evidence-based treatment options to help reduce pain and disability, improve strength and mobility, and return you to daily activities following an injury or surgery. In many cases, physical therapy treatments can help you avoid surgery, expensive tests or medications. Physical therapy can also help resolve or improve a variety of conditions such as vertigo, poor balance, and bladder and bowel incontinence.

The Polyclinic offers Physical Therapy at Madison Center and the Northgate Annex. Our team includes eight physical therapists and three physical therapist assistants.To celebrate National Physical Therapy Month, and to promote movement as essential for a healthy life, we invite you to participate in our challenges this week.

Challenge #1: Take a 30 minute walk

You can do this over your lunch break or after dinner tonight. Resolve to do this every day this week. Perhaps you will like this enough that you will decide you will want to walk 30 minutes every day. Studies had shown that daily walks help reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, and diabetes. Walking can help improve your mental well-being. Some experts have also reported that a good walking program can help you lose weight.

Challenge #2: Use your cell phone only for phone calls and short text messages

See how much better your neck feels by the end of the day. A recent study showed that constant hunching over a smart phone or mobile device can really add stress to your neck. One surgeon reported that with your head fully bent forward, as much as 60 pounds of force is exerted on your cervical spine. When using your phone: Keep it short and sweet! And when you do need to use your phone for longer periods (check your email, etc.), hold the phone up higher so that you are not looking down.

Challenge #3: Avoid the elevator

Use the stairs. Find other ways to walk today. Park your car as far from the main entrance of your office building, shopping mall, or day care as possible. If riding the bus, get off one stop early. Instead of sending an email, walk to your co-worker’s station and deliver your message personally.

Challenge #4: In the spirit of Halloween fun, practice good ergonomics when carving your pumpkin

  • When picking up the pumpkin, lift with your legs and not with your back.
  • If you like to stand while carving, make sure to place the pumpkin on a high enough table so that you are not stooped over for too long. This will protect your back. After a particularly intense bout of carving, stop for a few seconds, place your hands on the small of your back, and do some back bends.
  • If sitting, do so with good posture. A pillow or small roll behind your back should be helpful.
  • Use tools with large padded handles so that you do not have to grip as hard. Stop every few minutes and do wrist stretches.
  • Prevent falls! Work in a well-lighted area. Keep your work area clean, and make sure you do not spill any pumpkin guts on the floor, which can cause a slip hazard.