Monday, April 11, 2011

Physical Therapy Offers Tips to Golfers Coming Back from ACL Surgery

© Hannelas Nicolas

Strength, Fitness, and Flexibility Are Key Factors to Recovery and to Avoiding Future Injuries

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers consumers information on what to expect regarding recovery from this major knee surgery.

APTA spokesperson Bud Ferrante Jr, PT, OCS, MTC, who works with both professional and amateur golfers at his private physical therapy practice in Carmel, CA, says that full recovery from ACL surgery typically ranges from six to eight months when the ligament is completely healed. "Of course, every individual is different," says Ferrante. "A typical golfer post ACL surgery could be back on the golf course as soon as six months following surgery -- if the golfer works with a surgeon and physical therapist and follows the plan of care."

Ferrante notes that the first week post-surgery is mostly about controlling swelling, pain, and getting patients to start moving as soon as possible. "Individuals who undergo surgery often use crutches for the first week following surgery to limit the weight-bearing on the knee and then progress to one crutch or a cane," said Ferrante.

Physical therapy starts immediately after surgery, several times a day at first, beginning with very gentle knee range of motion exercises, notes Ferrante. Depending on the extent of the swelling, a physical therapist will then work with patients who undergo surgery on progressive range of motion exercises that focus on regaining any lost knee motion. Once the knee is healed, the physical therapist would work on helping the patient strengthen the muscles around the knee, including the hamstring, and quadriceps muscles.

"The most important thing following ACL surgery is that patients avoid any type of twisting motions of the knee and not overdo the activity in the first few weeks of healing. The knee takes about four to six weeks to heal. If swelling increases, this could impede recovery," said Ferrante. Post-surgical ACL patients need to be careful going down stairs and to avoid certain exercises such as knee extensions.

How to Avoid ACL Surgery

APTA says that awareness of proper posture and the importance of fitness and flexibility are just as important for weekend golfers as they are for the pros. Golfers should have access to a physical therapist who can assess their physical abilities and provide individualized training programs that address musculoskeletal balance, body mechanics, strength, posturing and cardiovascular fitness.

Just as in professional tennis, there has been a significant increase in injuries among professional golfers, primarily because the game has changed so drastically and training has become so intense. According to APTA, it is now the norm, not the exception, for professional men and women golfers to work with physical therapists on improving these factors. But, warns APTA, it is vital that these programs be tailored to their individual skills.

Professional golfers make it look easy, but the golf swing is actually one of the most difficult and complicated movements in all of sports, requiring stability in some joints and flexibility in others. Having proper motion, strength, and function throughout the swing play a large role in preventing injuries. The payoff of a better swing is a more accurate ball strike, greater distance, and reduced stress on the muscles and joints.

Consumers can learn more about how physical therapists can get them back on the green as well as how to "Find a PT" by going to

Physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and manage individuals of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

The American Physical Therapy Association ( is a national organization representing physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students nationwide. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapist education, practice, and research.

If you live in northern Virginia and would like more information to see if you may benefit from physical therapy, please call 540-316-2680 to speak to a physical therapist. Or if you prefer to submit an inquiry via email, click on the button below.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Germinate Your Garden & Your Health This Spring

APTA Offers Tips for Pain‐free Gardening

© Alexey Stiop
As Americans anxiously await the arrival of spring’s milder temperatures, many are also looking forward to springing back into the garden. A place where plants, veggies and flowers thrive, a garden is also where people of all ages, fitness levels and shades of green thumb can enjoy physical activity. As with all types of exercise, there is a risk of injury if done improperly. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), it is important that gardeners take a health‐conscious approach to both prevent injuries and reap the health rewards of gardening. “Many gardeners injure themselves because they don’t view gardening as a workout,” says APTA spokesperson Mary Ann Wilmarth, PT, DPT. “Gardening is a strenuous activity and it is very easy for people to overdo it, especially for seniors or those who have pre‐existing conditions, limited mobility or who are normally inactive.” Common gardening tasks, such as digging, planting, weeding, mulching and raking can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints, primarily in the shoulders, back, neck and knees. APTA recommends the following tips to minimize the risk of injury:

  • Warm up before you begin. Get your heart rate up by taking a 10‐minute walk followed by some stretches for your upper and lower back, neck, arms and legs. Roll your shoulders back in a circular motion and slowly move your head from side to side a few times to loosen up.

  • Don’t overdo it. Be mindful of how your body feels. If you experience an aching back or neck, then slow down and stretch or stop and switch to a different task.

  • Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move tools and heavy planting materials.

  • Don’t kneel on both knees. Keep one foot on the ground to give your back more stability. If you have to kneel, use knee pads or a pillow to absorb some of the pressure.

  • Change positions and take frequent breaks to avoid stiffness or cramping.

  • Start with smaller projects and build gradually. Don’t try to do it all at once.

  • Practice proper body mechanics. Bend at your knees when you grab something or pull a weed, bend your knees and contract your abdominal muscles to avoid straining your back.

  • End your gardening session with a short walk or some light stretching. Take a warm bath or shower to help prevent next‐day soreness.

  • If you experience pain, contact your physical therapist.

For more tips on a variety of activities and to learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat visit

Consumers are also encouraged to follow APTA on Twitter (@moveforwardpt) and Facebook. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 77,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide.

If you feel you or someone you know may benefit from physical therapy, or if you have a question, please call 540-316-2680 to speak with a physical therapist. Or click on the button below to submit an inquiry via email.