Advanced Practice PT - November 2022

NOVEMBER 2022 | 406-770-3171


This September, Hurricane Ian reminded me that I have a lot to be thankful for. My daughter (Erin), her husband (Russell), and their two children live about an hour outside of Fort Myers, Florida. It's hard to believe that the hurricane passed right over them! My husband and I started praying the moment we saw the storm’s path, and I think it certainly helped. We were on edge for days waiting for the phone to ring. When it did, Erin spoke on the other end. She told us that her family was healthy, and their house was still standing. Thanks to the Lord, the worst damage they sustained is a leaky roof. This holiday season, I’m so grateful for that near-miss, my family, and God’s presence in my life. I’m blessed to have this job as a physical therapist and a lovely place to work in Advanced Practice PT. I’m also thankful for my friends, health care providers, and community here in Great Falls. My neighbors are friendly and kind, and the mountains always look down on me. Of course, as much as I love Great Falls, Montana has a downside: constant shoveling duty all winter long. I shovel snow from the walks both at home and here at the office, so I know exactly how strenuous and potentially dangerous the job can be. Make one poor decision while shoveling, and you could end up with a pulled back muscle or even a disc problem in your spine. To avoid injuries this winter, use these five tips to shovel the smart way. 1. Choose an ergonomically correct shovel. Your shovel should be large enough that you don’t need to bend over while using it, and ideally, it should have a curved handle instead of a straight one. When shovel shopping, test out your tool to ensure that it’s comfortable in your hands. 2. Stretch before, during, and after you scoop. Ideally, you should stretch every day, but it’s essential to do before and after shoveling. Stretching will loosen your muscles so you can go through the motions of shoveling without

hurting yourself. Try doing hamstring stretches, lying on your back and bringing one or both knees to your chest, or lying on your stomach and propping yourself up on your elbows. I even recommend stretching while shoveling. If you twist your body in one direction, pause and twist the other way to stretch your muscles and restore circulation. 3. Prepare your body with strengthening exercises. It’s tempting to stay cozy indoors during the winter, but you must continue exercising to keep up your strength. Try taking a daily walk around your neighborhood and adding back and abdominal strengthening exercises to your routine. Leg lifts and bridging are great options. If an exercise starts to hurt, don’t push through the pain. Stop and visit your doctor or our team of PTs. 4. Avoid bending and twisting at the same time. Bending is bad on its own, but the combination of bending and twisting is particularly dangerous for your back. Instead of twisting your spine while bent over, straighten up each time you toss a shovel load. 5. Take breaks, trade off shovel duty, and stop working if your body starts to hurt. Many people don’t have the option to switch off shoveling with another person, but if you do, please take advantage of it. Even if you’re shoveling alone, taking breaks and letting your body rest is essential. The repetitive action of shoveling can cause muscle strain to develop into more serious problems. I hope you put these tips to good use this winter. If you, a friend, or a family member have a shoveling mishap, our team is here to help, but I’d be grateful to see you finish the season free from pain.

Happy Holidays!

–Donna Vinnedge

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Do you ever feel as if your head is in the clouds? Brain fog due to stress can make it difficult to retain information, remember little details, concentrate, and react quickly. If your mind feels a little sluggish and a bit off, here are some tips to get you feeling like yourself again! Nourish your brain. Did you know what you eat has a direct effect on your brain function? Poor food choices can negatively impact the way your brain works, but fueling it with minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins provides positive brain energy! For example, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and vitamin B-12 are essential for memory and brain function. Are you eating foods with those nutrients? Focus on getting better sleep. According to the American Sleep Association, between 50–70 million

adults in the U.S. have a sleep disorder, and this could lead to feeling disoriented, sluggish, and mentally foggy the next day. To promote better sleep, here are some tips: • Develop a sleep schedule • Avoid hitting the snooze button • Exercise once a day • Begin dimming artificial light in the early evening • Promote calm evenings • Sleep in the dark • Charge your electrical devices outside of the bedroom Stress less. Stress can make it difficult to form fluid thoughts, concentrate, and become or stay motivated. In fact, when you’re stressed out, you may lose some control over yourself. To reduce your stress and combat brain fog, be realistic about your goals and what you

can handle. Concentrate on just one task at a time; remember to breathe, smile, and laugh; and advocate for a healthy work-life balance. Exercise regularly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting active is not only good for your muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, cardiovascular system, and overall health, but it can also work wonders for your cognitive health. It’s been linked to improved memory, reduced depression and anxiety, and better problem-solving. This doesn’t mean you need to be in the gym every day pumping iron! Simply walking, gardening, or swimming is enough to get your heart pumping and endorphins flowing! Being consistent is key. These tips are sure to help you combat brain fog and take care of your body so it can take care of you in the long run!


With access to the internet, social media, and the news, we’re constantly surrounded by information, and it’s hard to tell what we should or shouldn’t do. But when it comes to what we put in our bodies, it's not a good idea to experiment. Let's take a look at some of the most common nutritional myths buzzing around and what makes them dubious! You should avoid high-fat foods. When you visit the supermarket, “fat-free” food options line the shelves. Many people follow a low-fat diet in hopes that it will help them lose weight and maintain optimal health. But, instead of avoiding fat altogether, aiming for a diet balanced with healthy fats is the way to go. In fact, fat provides many benefits, including protecting our organs, promoting proper growth and development, and maintaining cell membranes. Everyone should be gluten-free. For those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, avoiding gluten — the protein present in wheat, rye, and barley — is necessary. However, for everyone else, whole-wheat products are beneficial to our diets.

It’s also important to note that when gluten is removed, it’s commonly substituted with refined starches, sugar, and salt.

It’s impossible to eat healthy on a budget. With proper planning and a little extra time spent in the kitchen, nourishing your body doesn’t have to break the bank. By planning meals around sales, shopping seasonally for produce, purchasing frozen fruits and veggies, and sticking to shopping lists, you’ll be off to a good start! Eating after a certain time in the evening is bad. Late-night snacking can surely lead to weight gain or can hinder weight loss efforts, but it’s not because of the time of day. It’s all about how many calories you’ve consumed in the day and why you’re eating. In the evening, it’s more common to get the munchies out of boredom, habit, or craving rather than actual hunger. Don’t let nutritional disinformation get the best of you. Before trying out a new dietary recommendation or altering your routine, always do your research and check with your doctor — you’ll be glad you did!


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A Life-Changing Secret The Benefits of Low-Impact Activity for Aging Adults

Aerobic Activities Endurance activities such as swimming, jogging, walking, and bike riding are all great options for boosting your cardiovascular function and building stamina. According to the CDC, adults who are 65 years or older should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week — or 30 minutes five times a week. Staying active into your golden years is essential for your mental and physical health. It can prevent health complications and enable you to keep up with your children and grandchildren for years to come.

As we age, it's important to remain active and maintain a healthy combination of strength training, aerobic activity, and flexibility exercises. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aging adults benefit greatly from regular exercise. However, you may find that there are certain movements you can no longer safely do or that your range of motion just isn't what it used to be when you were younger. Low-impact activity is a great way to reduce the strain exercise can put on your joints while still allowing your body to reap the benefits. If you’re looking for some ideas or fresh workouts to incorporate into your routine, here are some that use safe strength and resistance training, proper stretching practices, aerobic exercise, and highly beneficial mobility work. Strength Training Don’t worry, we aren’t talking about bench-pressing 150 pounds! Instead, situps, pullups, wall pushups, squats,

single-leg stands, and stair climbing are all different types of low-impact body weight exercises that you can do at home without any equipment. They will help you burn body fat and reverse muscle loss. If you’d like to incorporate strength training, opting for hand weights is a great option. Yoga Yoga improves your flexibility, builds muscle, strengthens and stabilizes your core, and benefits your joints. If you’re new to yoga, don’t worry — there are many yoga programs specifically designed for new yogis or older adults. Pilates Similar to yoga, Pilates is extremely gentle on your joints, but it incorporates a bit more strength training. The focus is on your core, but Pilates also works your arms and legs while also improving your flexibility and posture. It can be done with or without equipment such as yoga balls, rings, and weights.

Lentil Bolognese Rich and robust, this plant-based meal is full of flavor and perfect for those cool autumn days.




• 1-lb box pasta, any kind • 2 tbsp olive oil • 1 onion, diced • 1 1/2 cups diced carrots • 1 1/2 cups diced celery • 4–6 garlic cloves, chopped • 1/2 tsp salt • 1/2 tsp pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. 2. In a large pot, heat olive oil

over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until fragrant. Lower heat to medium, add carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and Italian herbs. 3. Add tomato paste and cook down for a few minutes. Now add the lentils, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, and hemp seeds. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and simmer until lentils are tender. 4. Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, then stir in the balsamic vinegar before adjusting the seasonings to your liking. When that is done, pour over the pasta and enjoy.

• 1/4 tsp chili flakes • 1 tbsp Italian herbs • 1/3 cup tomato paste

• 1 1/4 cups lentils • 3 tomatoes, diced • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth • 3/4 cup hemp seeds • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

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1. Donna’s Tips for Safer Shoveling INSIDE THIS ISSUE

2. Combating Brain Fog

Common Nutritional Myths

3. Low-Impact Exercise for Aging Adults Lentil Bolognese 4. 5 Signs You’re Doing Too Much Cardio


If you love the results you see from your cardio workouts, it’s possible you might want to increase how often you work out. But too much of a good thing can be detrimental, which includes cardio!

However, when you’re engaging in an activity familiar to your body, especially when it comes to cardio, you shouldn’t become sore as your body adapts. If you’re constantly feeling sore, this is your body’s way of asking for a break! Your heart rate is fast. Your resting heart rate should be slow and relaxed. If you notice it stays high for a period of continuous days, this is a dangerous health concern that occurs when your heart forgets how to relax. This means it’s time to slow down — literally! Your easy days are becoming hard. You’d think the more you do something, the easier it’d get. While this makes sense most of the time, when you overdo it and don’t allow your body enough proper recovery time, you may feel more challenged than usual, even with light cardio. So, how much cardio should you really be aiming for? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. While cardio is pivotal for our health, too much cardio will do more harm than good!

Here are five signs you're doing too much cardio and need to give your routine a breather.

You’re fatigued. Overdoing cardio exercises increases the levels of stress hormones in our bodies and can lead to constantly feeling run down. There’s only so much stress we can place on our muscles and joints before our body lets us know it’s had enough! Your weight loss has plateaued or become sluggish. Excessive cardio can lead to a loss in muscle mass, which hinders your body’s ability to effectively burn fat and drastically slows weight loss. You’re constantly sore. When you first use a muscle group you haven’t used in a while or change up the exercise or weight, soreness is common.

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