5 Ways to Challenge Your Single Leg Stance and Improve Your Balance

Improve balance portland physical therapy

The ability to maintain our balance is linked to multiple processes in our body including muscles and joints, vision, and our inner ear. As we get older, there are changes in all of these systems that result in a loss of steadiness and an increased risk of falling. Fortunately, falling is not inevitable and with training, our balance can improve! Training your balance now is also effective in improving your athletic performance by making better use of the strength that you already have.

Whether from a physical therapist, a personal trainer, or part of the warm up routine of your sports team, balance is very often overlooked in any training program. Maybe it sounds a bit dull but there are ways you can make it fun! Balance training can so easily be incorporated into your exercise routine and the results can help to preserve your ability to balance as you get older, warding off injuries and keeping your body strong.

Gauge your own balance with the single leg stance. Stand next to something sturdy, like a chair or table, and raise one leg off of the floor with your hips bent to 45 degrees and your knee to 90 degrees. Begin by trying to balance for 5-10 seconds and then work your way up. To challenge yourself even more, try these single leg stance modifications:

Relax Your Toes

Most people, when they stand on one foot, automatically tend to “grip the floor for dear life” with their toes as a way of searching for any type of stability. Relaxing the toes increases the surface area of your foot and allows some of those deep intrinsic foot muscles that are just in the arch of our foot, to activate.

Practice Balancing Barefoot

Taking the shoes and socks off allows you to receive sensory feedback from the floor, letting your natural foot do what it wants on the floor. You’re also not forced into the position of your shoes (aka foot coffins). Runners who need to have really strong foot muscles will do a lot of training while barefoot. This gives these muscles a better chance of activating without that stability.

Look Up!

We’re so reliant on our visual system for balance and movement in general, we’ll always correct our posture so that our gaze is horizontal. When you look down at the ground, everything else follows—your neck is flexed, your shoulders are rounded, your butt may be sticking out a little bit to counter the weight—posturally you’re put in a really bad position. Looking up straightens everything out and makes it much more challenging.

Close Your Eyes

At first this may be difficult, but over time it will make you less reliant on your visual system. Closing your eyes will make your proprioceptor system work a little bit harder, helping to train and strengthen those muscles and ligaments.

Multi-task

Balance training doesn’t always have to be “stand on one leg and hold for as long as you can”. Practicing balance while frozen (not talking, not blinking, not moving) is not quite realistic to maintaining proper balance in everyday life. Shake things up by catching a ball while you’re balancing on one leg, having a conversation, thinking about something else, moving your arms, cooking, washing dishes, etc. Challenge your brain to focus on more than just your balance so that it becomes an automatic response.

Make balance training a part of your workout routine by practicing your single leg stance daily. You’ll notice improvements in no time!

Is Crossing Your Legs Bad For You?

Crossing your legs seems like a natural sitting position but can it actually be bad for you?

Aside from claims that it raises your blood pressure or that it can cause varicose veins, regularly sitting with your legs crossed may result in a stooped posture, lower back pain, neck pain, and/or hip discomfort. This seemingly harmless sitting position could be contributing to aches and pains and actually increasing your chance of further injury.

When you cross one leg over the other, muscle imbalances are created in the lower back and the hips which can contribute to pelvic and sacral dysfunction as your body naturally shifts to one side. The pelvic imbalance eventually makes the hip flexor and inner thigh muscles shorter and the outer thigh muscle longer, putting your joints at risk for stiffness and dysfunction. Your pelvis also rolls backward and “unstacks” the spine, putting pressure on the lower back and forcing you into a leaning position favoring the side that the leg is crossed over. You end up with tight muscles on one side and on the other side, muscles that are weakened and overstretched. No good!

Sitting with your legs crossed slightly twists the spine which may lead to back pain, neck pain, and disc problems. For PT patients who experience back pain, it is recommended that they work on breaking the habit of crossing their legs as it may lead to compensation and stiffness, making their symptoms worse. Sitting this way after treatment can even undo physical therapy work that has already been done. It becomes a constant battle of reactivating muscles and restabilizing the pelvis and sacrum. Finding a neutral position is key to begin stabilizing better. When your pelvis is in a neutral position, the rest of the spine can also find a more neutral position

crossing your legs is bad for your health physical therapy

So I can’t cross my legs…how am I supposed to sit?

If you’re used to crossing your legs while sitting, it can be a particularly difficult habit to break as many of us do it without even thinking. It may take some time to get used to but practicing crossing your legs down at the ankles with your feet on the floor allows your pelvis to sit in a neutral position so that the rest of your spine can also be in a neutral position. Your stabilizing muscles can activate best in this position as there’s no negative tension on the ligaments, joints, and discs.

To find that neutral posture, your weight should be just slightly in front of the sit bones. To find this while seated, roll back and forth so you can feel your sit bones. Make sure both feet are flat on the floor with your knees and hips as close to 90 degrees as possible.

Get to Know Your PT: Sabrina Seraj, Therapydia Portland Physical Therapist

Therapydia Portland Senior Staff Physical Therapist Sabrina Seraj takes some time to talk about her love of breakfast, how she became interested in PT, and Game Day Bass Drops on Pandora.

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley

When did you know that you wanted to be a physical therapist?

I didn’t know much about physical therapy until college. I knew I loved anatomy from high school and I was going to go the route of medicine/healthcare in some form or fashion. With a little research, I found the role of a PT fit my desires and personality best: The ability to work with my hands, educate and help people feel better, be analytical and creative, and deal with anatomy all day?! Perfect!

What is the biggest challenge involved in being a PT?

Sometimes the energy of the work day stays with me as I go home; when working closely with a lot of people in pain, the pain can start to seep in.

How do you like to stay active?

I have always been an active girl but not in one particular discipline. I prefer to change it up but always do some yoga and Pilates. I love to hike and explore too.

What’s your favorite song to get you motivated?

“Eye of the Tiger,” because if it motivates Rocky…..(kidding). This is a hard question because it depends on what I’m doing but when I require motivation to start my exercise regimen, I am pumping Game Day Bass Drops on Pandora. Seriously.

What surprised you the most about the physical therapist profession?

The ins and outs of insurance ….

Are you currently pursuing any further education/certifications?

I am always looking to push my skill level and knowledge and am progressing through a series of classes through NAIOMT (North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy) for a specialized certification in advanced clinical skills, among other plans.

What do you wish everyone knew about physical therapy?

PT is physical. It requires the physical effort and commitment of the patient. I wish I had a magic wand I could wave over patients and cure them, but alas, we physical therapists are only catalysts for bodily change and the patient has to be committed to making that change to reap the full benefits!

What’s your go-to breakfast?

Oh man! Breakfast is my favorite meal!! Eggs, all ways… and always.

What is the most important personality trait that a PT must have?

Adaptability.

What do you do to de-stress/unwind?

Dance or yoga. I like to move.

Finish this sentence: On Saturday mornings, you can usually find me…

Excited to wake up and make breakfast and eat it! (Did I mention I love breakfast?)

What is your favorite piece of wellness advice?

I have 2 quotes that come to mind:

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley

“Everything in moderation… including moderation.” – Oscar Wilde

Click here to learn more about Sabrina and the other physical therapists at Therapydia Portland.

10 Misconceptions about Physical Therapy

Misconception #1: All physical therapists are the same

Physical therapists all come from different backgrounds including training, continued education, and personal experiences. These varying characteristics can lead to different philosophies of treatment. Although PTs graduate with similar fundamental knowledge and “tools”, the education and career path each PT takes after their schooling may add more tools and will dictate what tools they use and when. While all PTs should have the same goal—getting you back to a pain-free lifestyle as soon as possible—not all PTs are created equal.

One negative experience with physical therapy doesn’t mean that you should write off the potentially life-changing care of a PT entirely.

But how do you go about finding a physical therapist who is right for you?

When seeking out a PT, it’s important to shop around and find one that you like. Where to start? Search different terms online to narrow down what you’re looking for (ex: knee pain specialist, back pain, etc.). Ask friends and family for recommendations or go to your doctor for a referral. Additionally, try cold-calling clinics and asking questions like “Do you offer one-on-one treatments?” and “How long will my sessions be?” Gather as much information as you can to find the right match for your condition. Try to find someone that you “jive” with personally as you’ll be spending some quality time together.

During your course of treatment ask yourself, “Does my PT understand my goals?” You should feel like you’re working towards those goals during each session. Finding a PT that you connect with and relate to could actually lead to a situation where you look forward to coming in for treatment!

Misconception #2: Physical therapy is going to hurt

That old adage of “no pain, no gain” is FALSE. Somewhere along the way, physical therapy picked up a reputation that treatment hurts, or that it’s supposed to hurt. Some patients even delay coming in to PT because they think they should wait until their pain subsides so they don’t make anything worse. Why wait when they can help you now?! If you’re in pain, there is rarely a reason to wait to come to PT.

Research shows that the sooner you begin treatment, the better chance you’ll have of recovering quickly and efficiently (saving you and the healthcare system time and money).

As long as you can get to the clinic safely, even if someone else has to drive you, PTs can likely do something to make you feel better. Lastly, your PT should rarely do anything that makes your pain worse and if they do, perhaps they’re not the right fit for you. Know that your treatment may be a little uncomfortable at times depending on what you’re being seen for, but a good PT is going to be constantly checking in with you to gauge your comfort level throughout treatment. If something is bothering you, they’re going to adjust the plan of care accordingly.

you have to see a doctor before a physical therapist

Misconception #3: You have to see a doctor before you can go to a PT

This mindset dates back decades to when people began seeing their primary care doctor as “the gatekeeper” to all other healthcare professionals.

Truthfully, if you’re in pain or you have a musculoskeletal issue, a PT can likely help and you can save time and money by going straight to them.

Think for a second about a chiropractor. An average person experiencing back pain would probably think, “I should see a chiropractor”. They likely wouldn’t go to their doctor to ask permission, they would just go see a chiropractor directly. Physical therapy is no different! Physical therapists are the experts in musculoskeletal injuries and prevention. If you have pain anywhere, you should automatically be thinking physical therapy. If for some reason your condition is out of the scope of a PT’s practice, they are well-equipped to refer you to the appropriate practitioner. A good physical therapist asks all of the right questions to rule out anything that’s not musculoskeletal.

physical therapist education misconception

Misconception #4: To be a physical therapist, I just need a certification

Surprisingly, many people are unaware that to become a physical therapist you need about seven years of schooling, not to mention a ton of hands-on, clinical experience and education that continues even after you begin practicing.

PTs nowadays receive a clinical doctorate degree; that’s what the DPT after a PTs name stands for – Doctor of Physical Therapy.

They then take a national board exam to earn a license to treat patients, yet some people still can’t tell you the difference between a physical therapist and a personal trainer. By the way, personal trainers are awesome! However, when you’re in pain, your rehab becomes out of their scope of practice.

physical therapists fix people misconception

Misconception #5: Physical therapists “fix” people

A physical therapist’s job is to enable you and be active in your recovery but there is no “cure-all” button that they push to get rid of all your pain instantly. Physical therapy is a team effort. In other words, it is unlikely that you will get positive and lasting results from having all of your treatment done TO you (passive approach). As a patient, you should go in expecting to do a little bit of work.

A great PT will not fix you; they will help you learn how to fix yourself.

This may seem daunting at first but it’s actually quite encouraging as YOU are the one in control of your recovery. Your PT is there to guide you and provide some hands-on treatment early on while also teaching you the tools necessary to move and function long-term and on your own. As great as it is to see your PT regularly each week, you don’t want to do that for the rest of your life!

The work that you put in with your PT during each session is important but what is more important is what you do when you’re not with your PT. Your posture, your daily activities, what you’re doing at work, and even how you’re sleeping ALL affect your pain. There is only so much your PT can do during the time the two of you are together each week. Your physical therapist should give you the necessary guidance to function properly so you can continue an active, pain-free lifestyle on your own.

misconceptions clamshells no matter what

Misconception #6: You’ll be given clamshells no matter what

Look, there’s a time and a place for a clamshell or any other basic theraband exercise but doing clamshells for the rest of your life is not going to get you better. Your PT should give you custom exercises based on your unique body and specific condition (this may or may not include clamshells, but don’t be deterred!).

Your exercises shouldn’t stop at a clamshell; they should simulate the demands of the activities you are hoping to return to without pain.

On that note…

physical therapy is just exercise based

Misconception #7: Physical therapy is just exercise-based

Research shows that the combination of exercise AND manual therapy AND patient education is often the most effective treatment plan for a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. Although there may be some benefit to seeing a PT once and learning safe exercises you can do on your own (versus not going at all), this is not ideal nor should one expect a full recovery with this approach.

Some people may be hesitant to start PT because they’ve been told it’s going to be strictly exercise-based, yet they’ve never exercised before.

Know that your PT is there to be your coach and they’re not going to push you beyond your limits.

Every plan of care is different and will be tailored to your unique needs. Most importantly, don’t be afraid! If you are, be honest with your PT and let them know. Chances are they’ll make you feel at ease in no time.

misconceptions PTs will tell you to stop

Misconception #8: Your PT will tell you to stop doing what you love

Your physical therapist’s number one goal is to get you back to doing what you love as soon as possible! To delay treatment and ignore your pain because you want to keep running or keep training is only going to hurt you in the long run. In many cases, the longer you hold off treatment, the longer your recovery will take. Ideally, your physical therapist will not tell you to stop participating in your favorite activities unless it is necessary for health and/of safety reasons. Instead, they can incorporate these activities into your treatment plan.

Sometimes reducing or eliminating the aggravating activities is necessary to make progress, but this may just include modifying the amount of any particular activity, not stopping it entirely.

They want to focus on what you CAN do, not what you CAN’T do.

Another reminder that the goal of your PT is for you to get back to your favorite activities, fully healthy and as soon as possible.

you have to be in pain to go to physical therapy

Misconception #9: You have to be in pain to go to physical therapy

Frequently, people only think of PT when they’re seriously injured such as after a bad car accident or while recovering from surgery. Physical therapists do a lot more than address pain after an injury. A lot of their expertise lends itself to injury prevention and improving performance. Diagnosing problems in movement and function before those issues turn into serious or debilitating conditions can save you time, money, and frustration down the road. You don’t need to be in pain to come see a PT.

Believe it or not, it’s actually quite likely that you’re moving in a way that is dysfunctional – putting you at risk for future injury – even if you have no pain at all!

Addressing the issue now can pay off in the future.

once you're discharged you're done

Misconception #10: Once you’re discharged, you’re done

This misconception goes back to one we’ve already discussed: Physical therapists “fix” people. Your PT should give you the tools necessary to live a pain-free life but the ball is in your court to use those tools correctly and to ensure that your daily activities are not compromising the work that you’ve already put in.

YOU are in control of your recovery and you and your PT have hopefully worked together to help you adopt new healthy habits for lifetime wellness!

3 Poses for Holiday Meditation

Who doesn’t love the holidays? Great friends, good food, fun gifts, and extended family—what could go wrong?

For some, the holidays can also be hectic and overwhelming. Financial concerns, choosing the right gift, or limiting aunt Linda’s eggnog intake can all take a toll on your stress level. You may not be able to totally avoid stressful situations during these winter months but what you can do is prepare yourself to react in a healthy way. Taking short breaks from group activities can help you feel refreshed, excited, and appreciative of this most wonderful time of year.

Give these breathing prompts a try to keep calm and carry on through the holidays.

Counting exhales:
Get into position and count each exhale up to 10, once you’ve reached 10 begin back at 1.
If your mind starts to wander, take an inhale and on the exhale begin back at 1.
Try to count for 3-10 minutes.

meditation pose legs up the wall portland

hero's pose meditation portland

easy seated pose meditation portland

Inhale “I am here”.
Exhale “I am here now”.

This is a great way to stay present and keep your mind quiet.
Try to repeat this for 3-5 minutes.

5 Resistance Band Exercises to Add to Your Next Workout

resistance band exercises portland

Mini resistance bands are portable, they’re inexpensive, and though they might look to you like a larger, thicker, rubber band, the truth is they’re loaded with value! Physical therapists often use resistance bands to treat injuries in combination with other methods because of their versatility in targeting a variety of major muscle groups. But even if you’re not recovering from an injury, resistance band exercises are capable of strengthening areas that normal free weights can’t reach, making them a great addition to your workout routine. The best part is, you can continue to up the ante by increasing the resistance as you progress, further challenging your muscles without having to spend money on more equipment. Try these five resistance band exercises during your next workout and you’ll see what we mean:

Exercise 1: Isometric External Rotation

resistance band exercise

Isometric external rotation targets the shoulder and neck areas, specifically the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers. This exercise is great for anyone with shoulder or neck weakness and/or postural deficits.

1. Get into standing position with good posture (your shoulders down and back, core engaged, knees soft).
2. Place the band around your wrists.
3. Keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle and close to your sides as you pull the band apart squeezing your shoulder blades together.
4. Pull band apart at an equal distance on each side until you feel resistance.
5. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat for 10 times for 1-3 sets.

Exercise 2: Squat

resistance band exercise

You’re probably familiar with the squat but using a resistance band is a good way to make sure your glutes are fully engaged while performing the exercise. Squats activate the quads and external rotators to improve hip-knee-ankle alignment which is great for those with knee-tracking issues, patellofemoral pain (knee pain), or weak glutes.

1. Stand tall with stacked posture, feet shoulder width apart, and the resistance band about an inch above your knees.
2. Place your hands on your hips.
3. Begin to move into a seated position until you reach a nice, squatted stance. Most of your weight should be through the heels, rather than the toes.
4. Keep the resistance band on tension throughout the squat and return to an upright stance.
5. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets.

Exercise 3: Clamshell

clamshell exercise resistance band

Clamshells target your gluteus medius and external rotators and can be a great strengthening and endurance exercise when held for 5-10 seconds. Clamshells are excellent for runners, people with glute weakness, knee pain, or patellar (kneecap) tracking issues.

1. Lie on your side with your knees bent and your lower extremities stacked.
2. Put the band around your legs and place just above your knees, about 1-2 inches.
3. Keep your feet and ankles together and lift the top knee as high as you can without your pelvis rolling backward.
4. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
5. Repeat 10 times for 1-2 sets, alternating sides.

Exercise 4: Quadruped Hand Taps

quadruped hand taps resistance band exercise

Whether you’re an athlete or not, quadruped hand taps are great for anyone with shoulder and scapular weakness. This exercise really targets your rotator cuff and cervical stabilizing muscles (upper back and shoulder).

1. Start out on your hands and knees as if you were going to crawl on the floor. Place the resistance band around your wrists.
2. Find your neutral spine position by sinking your spine down toward the floor and then arching up to the ceiling until you reach the midway point.
3. Hold this position while pushing into your hands so your shoulder blades pull apart from each other. Pay close attention to not round your upper back.
4. Keep your elbows straight but not locked.
5. Keep one hand stationary as you move the opposite hand inward and then outward.
6. Repeat 10 times for 1-2 sets.

Exercise 5: Single Leg Balance and Reach

single leg balance and reach resistance band exercise

Single leg balance and reach really works to improve your stability and (you guessed it) balance. It also works the glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings. If you have weakness in any of these areas you can utilize this exercise to increase strength and get more out of your workouts.

1. In a standing position, place the resistance band around your ankles.
2. Lift one leg while balancing on the other and dip into a mini squat.
3. Reach your arms out to the sides and then return them to the center.
4. Reach your arms behind you and then return them to the center.
5. Dip in and out of the mini squat with each rep, keeping your knee aligned over the ankle.
6. Repeat 10 times for 1-2 sets.


resistance band exercises strength portland oregon

Run Phase 2: Stance Phase

A complete gait cycle occurs when one foot makes contact on the ground and the same foot makes contact on the ground again. After your foot has made initial contact, the stance phase comes next. During stance phase, both knees are at their peak flexion. One foot is in the air at peak knee bend through swing phase causing the leg on the ground to absorb all your body weight. Your leg on the ground is at peak energy absorption/recoil. In this post, we will focus on the leg that is on the ground.

When looking at a runner’s gait, the stance phase occurs when the hip, knee and ankle joints are in more flexion compared to heel strike. The knee flexion angle allows for optimal energy absorption through the lower extremity as your body is moving forward. The knee flexion angle for the stance leg is around 30 degrees and your hip should be in neutral compared to the lower leg at this phase of running. Having adequate hip strength during this running stage is crucial. If you do not have proper glut strength to stabilize the hip joint during stance phase, this could potentially lead to injury.

How To Improve Your Stance Phase:

Breaking down this phase of running can be as simple as looking at the ability to stand on one leg. Being able to maintain equal hip/pelvic alignment and balance while standing on one leg will show how stable your stance leg is. If you find yourself having to use your arms for balance, or your trunk sways excessively from side to side, your hip is not working to properly stabilize your body. If you think of what else is happening during stance phase, your opposite leg is moving in space during swing phase. This contralateral movement, or opposite sides of the body working together, of the legs in inverse directions also requires significant hip and core strength.

In addition to highlighting hip strength, stance phase can also show if certain muscle groups do not have adequate length/stretch. For example, if the calf muscle is tight, stance phase would be much shorter because it would limit the flexion angle at the ankle; limited dorsiflexion at the ankle forces you to compensate at other joints and can lead to injury.

If we look at the knee going through swing phase, if there is quad muscle tightness, this will limit full knee flexion. If the hip is unable to get past neutral, or even worse, stays in a flexed position throughout the running cycle, this could lead to low back pain, hip pain, and again other compensation patterns leading to injury. Treadmill video analysis of your running gait can further reveal what other muscle groups might need strengthening or stretching.

Below are just a few examples of strengthening exercises for the hips and single leg balance. Please note that seeking tailored exercises from a physical therapist for specific muscle group strengthening is highly recommended.

1. Step Up With Run Snap:

2. 12, 3, 6 O’clock Toe Taps:

3. Single Leg Hip Hinge With Run Snap:

Eliminate cycling related pain with a bike fit

Spring is in the air and there’s no better time to hop on a bike and get outside. If you have never had a professional bike fit, you might know what you’re missing out on! Getting on the right size frame with the right saddle height are just scratch the surface of finding a comfortable riding position. Components such as cleats, pedals, saddle width, stem length, handlebar type and position and placement of the brake hoods can all play a part in how you feel on your ride. Don’t let these things sound overwhelming; when you see a Therapydia PT for bike fitting, you will be given all of the information and education you need to feel confident on your bike and take control of your ride.

If you’ve ever been to physical therapy in the past, then you know that PTs are biomechanical experts. We’re constantly looking at how the human body moves and responds to stimulus and the environment and look for ways to optimize your mobility. The same holds true on a bike: each bike fit will start with musculoskeletal movement screening both off and on your bike. We’ll look at your flexibility and mobility in the upper and lower body as well as your spine and discuss how these findings relate to your experience on the bike. From there we will talk about what you love about riding and what you want to improve on. Measurements will be taken to determine your baseline position on your bike and then we will make adjustments to work towards putting you in an optimal, efficient and pain-free position.

Your bike fit may be covered by your insurance plan if medical necessity is determined following a Physical Therapy evaluation. Please call our office in Lake Oswego at 503-894-5654 to find out more about PT bike fitting, or email jennifer@therapydialakeoswego.com

9 Yoga Poses For Runners

With spring finally trying to break through the Portland grey skies, a lot of people are moving their exercise routines outdoors. From biking to jogging to dog walking, people are excited to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. With all this moving and shaking we need to also be aware of what a long cold winter could do to our joints. Sitting by a cozy fire or curling up on the couch with a good book can cause tightness in our joints, but we might not notice these restrictions until we go for our first spring run. Yoga is an amazing way to get stability and flexibility around all of our joints, and especially for our weight bearing joints such as hips, knees, and ankles. Below are a few quick yoga poses that are very beneficial for stretching hip flexors, quadriceps, hip rotators, and the low back.

Anjaneyasana (low lunge)

Horizon lunge with quad stretch

Horizon lunge with quad stretch (with props)

Revolved Figure 4 Stretch

Supine Twist

supine twist

Supta Baddha Konasana (Restorative pose)

supta bhadda konasana

3 Poses For Glutes and Hip Stability

Running in is a great way to get outside, explore your surroundings, and get a good cardiovascular workout! Yoga is the perfect compliment to running in that it stretches muscle groups that can get tight or strained. Runners are prone to overuse injuries due to tight muscles, particularly the hip flexors. Weakness in certain muscle groups, such as the glutes and abdominals, can also contribute to run-related injuries. To improve glute strength and hip stability give these poses a try:

• Warrior III – Virabhadrasana III (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna)
• 1/2 moon – Ardha Chandrasana (are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna)
• Tree pose – Vrkasana (vrik-SHAHS-anna)

The balance of strength and flexibility is one we should always strive for. For more information regarding running or yoga benefits please contact Therapydia Lake Oswego!

Health Benefits of Squatting

squat physical therapy

There are few exercises that exist that are more beneficial than the squat. Contrary to popular belief, when properly coached and progressed, squats are an excellent training tool for improving leg and hip strength, load tolerance in the knee, and core strength. While it is true that squats produce compressive loads within the knee joint and tensile loads of the ligaments and tendons of the knee, current research has shown that those loads are still below the maximum tolerable loads of those connective tissues. In fact, evidence also points to a higher levels of tensile strength and cross-sectional area (CSA) of the quad, patellar, and achilles tendons in athletes who have participated in weightlifting vs non-weightlifting sports. Strengthening exercises for the quads that allow for progressive loading, such as squats, can in fact reduce the long-term risk of injury.

Squats Can Actually Help Your Spine

When looking at the impact of squatting on the lumbar spine researchers have found no adverse effects on disc height in the long-term. In other words, the idea that barbel squats cause degeneration in the lumbar spine is based more on fear than science. In fact, the increase in demand on core musculature would indicate that loaded squatting improves the stability of the spine rather than the opposite.

As mentioned earlier, learning to squat can provide a whole host of benefits that outweigh the risks. Those benefits include:
1. Increased overall leg strength for daily activities.
2. Increased core strength for spine health.
3. Increased hip and ankle mobility with progressive loading.
4. Increased metabolic rate due to the increased muscle growth.
5. Improved movement patterns to minimize injury risk with other sports and activities.

If you are experiencing pain with squatting, consider meeting with a physical therapist to assess what the possible causes might be. Not everyone needs to squat the same and a good therapist will help identify what your limitations are and how to properly progress your program to continue to reap the benefits of squatting without increasing pain.