Getting Back In the Game: Sports Injuries and Physical Therapy

School is back in session, fall weather is here and the kids are back to practice and games. It’s the season for football, soccer, tennis, dance, and volleyball. Unfortunately, when sports are in full swing, so are the number of sport injuries we see in the physical therapy department at Team Health Care Clinic. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE working with young people at our clinic, but seeing them miss out on their favorite activities is a bummer.


Some of the common sports injuries we see are:

  • Ankle sprainsAnkle sprain
  • Hamstring strains
  • Tennis elbow – sports that require gripping activity cause this, not just “tennis”
  • Hip flexor strain
  • Sciatica
  • Shoulder injuries


These most common types of injuries are strains and sprains. They are injuries that affect the soft tissues such as muscle, ligaments and tendons in the body.

Sprains are injury to ligaments. These structures connect bone to bone and give joints their integrity. These injuries are sustained when a joint is stretched beyond its normal motion causing tearing or disruption to the ligament.

Strains are injuries that affect the muscles and tendons. Tendons attach muscles to the bone. Strains are muscles that have been over stretched or over used with repetitive motions. Injuries can be caused by a trauma such as a collision or over training. There is usually pain, swelling, and an altered movement pattern when these tissues are affected.


You can reduce your risk for soft tissue injury by:

  • Warming up and stretching: this will increase the blood flow to your muscle tissues. Your muscle now responds like a warm piece of taffy vs. a cold piece of taffy. The muscle is going to be more flexible.
  • Condition for your activity: do some pre-season work outs to prepare your body and gradually increase your intensity.
  • Stop when you are fatigued: this reduces the risk of over use and abnormal movement patterns placing you at risk for injury.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and protective gear: contact sports without a helmet? You get the idea.
  • Cross train: this prevents over training and repetition injuries.


Fellow parents and coaches, we need to be attentive to our athletes. Child and teen athletes are especially prone to injuries, because they are still growing. During growth spurts, muscles are placed under more stress and stretch. Along with this they experience muscle imbalances and weakness. Look for signs of discomfort, a reduced desire to play or different movement patterns. This is a warning that could indicate something significant is going on. Pressure to participate can lead to decisions to play while injured, and put our athletes at risk for additional injuries. Continuing to play while injured prolongs their recovery and places them at risk. The biggest risk factor for a soft tissue injury is a previous or untreated injury. If an athlete has an injury and it is persisting, they need to seek care. Doing so early on will prevent further damage, and not delay their return to get back in the game.

Andrea Newport, PT

Andrea Newport, PT

Reduce Inflammation, Improve Brain Function

What if I could tell you how to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by 50% and serious cardiac events by 90%? Lets also add improved attention, mood, skin, joint pain, and resistance to concussion. This treatment intervention will help these and most other conditions by improving the health of billions of your cells, reducing inflammation and improving brain function. At Team Health Care Clinic in Champlin, MN we make sure our patient’s road to restored health starts with addressing this key foundational marker of health.

So what is this foundational treatment? It is omega 3 fatty acids. You probably have heard of this important nutrient– also called fish oils. You may even be taking them. However, if you are like me and almost every one of our patients, you may be missing one very important step to make sure you are benefiting from your fish oils. That step is determining if you are even taking a  therapeutic dose and, if so, whether or not it is improving your health markers.

You can’t know unless you test.

In order to reap the immense benefits of taking omega three fatty acid‘s, you must have therapeutic levels in your blood. Omega-3 deficiency in the United States is rampant. In our informal study of our patients and staff who were actually taking omega-3 fatty acid‘s, over 90% had levels that were determined to be far too low when tested. You can’t know how much omega 3 fatty acids you should be taking unless you test. For this reason we have partnered with a company, Brainspan, to provide this important testing for our patients.

Brainspan tests for inflammation, leaky cells and brain function.

The following foundational markers of health are obtained by this test:

  1. Inflammation ratio looks at an important ration of “bad fats” to “good fats.” Two generations ago that ratio was generally 3:1. Currently that ratio in the US is 20:1 due to our diet changes. If you don’t get your ratio to 5:1 or better you likely have systemic inflammation which ultimately results in chronic disease.
  2. Leaky cell assessment determines your actual omega 3 levels. These fats are critical components of your cell walls. When your levels drop to below 8%, your cell walls begin weakening. The report will tell you how much you need to take and for how long to get to therapeutic levels.
  3. Brain function is assessed using a brief web based cognitive function test for attention, memory and processing speed.

Taking the Brainspan test is easy and painless. The information obtained from the Brainspan test gives our providers an advantage over others who simply make recommendations based on what is generally understood about Omega 3 fatty acids. Our patients often mention that they feel more in control of their health.

Those who are interested in taking the Brainspan test should speak with their provider. If you do not have a provider who offers Brainspan, contact us to purchase your Brainspan kit, currently available in our clinic for $99.

Jay Bertsch, DC

Jay Bertsch, DC


Why Can’t I Sleep?

All too often, I hear the complaint from patients that they are having trouble sleeping at night. Whether it’s falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting up in the morning, it seems the majority of people in our day and age struggle with getting good, let alone enough, sleep. So what can lead to these challenges? Lets take a look at a few possibilities.


From phones, to tablets, to TV’s and more, we are bombarded with a constant barrage of stimulating light. These devices give off a blue-wavelength spectrum of light, a very short wavelength, which makes it difficult for our brains to shut down at night. This type of light actually suppresses the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, and can alter the circadian rhythm, which allows us to have proper, consistent sleep/wake cycles. It may be time to shut that phone down before going into bed, and consider reducing or eliminating that time in front of the TV during late times at night as well.

Low Blood Sugar

Dysglycemia, or blood sugar dysregulation, is running rampant among our society. You don’t have to have diabetes to have trouble controlling blood sugar, and sleep is just one area that may be affected as a result. When our diets are high in carbohydrates and sugars, our body quickly breaks these down for use for quick energy. What happens when we eat a dinner high in carbs or a late night snack high in sugar, such as ice cream? We may go to bed feeling full and satisfied, but the quickly broken down and absorbed carbs can’t sustain the energy our body needs through a full night of sleep. So our body taps into our adrenal glands to secrete cortisol, our stress hormone, to pull blood sugar out of our stores and into our blood stream so our body, and our brain, can continue to function while we sleep. With this quick spike in cortisol, along with adrenaline hormones, in the middle of the night, our brain quickly wakes us up as we get put into fight or flight mode. This often takes place sometime between 2 and 3am. If this is you, consider having a healthy snack high in protein before bed, so your body has something in can break down and use over the course of a night of sleep.


The world we live in tends to be busy, go-go-go, and thus, stressful. But does that high stress life you live really affect your sleep? It most certainly Stress causes poor sleepdoes. As mentioned above, cortisol, our stress hormone, plays a large role in our sleep. During the day our cortisol levels are higher, to keep us alert and awake. At night, they drop and should be at their lowest point in the middle of the night, so we can sleep. When morning comes cortisol increases to help us get up and ready for the day. But when stress levels are high in a person’s life, the pattern of cortisol can be thrown off. Often, one may feel awake at night and have a hard time falling asleep, while mornings are nearly impossible to get out of bed. Adding to the story, melatonin, our sleep hormone, works in an inverse relationship, where it should be low during the day and high at night to help us sleep. When these become out of range or even reversed, our sleep patterns are greatly affected.



3 Steps to Better Sleep

1. Turn off your phone, tablets, and TV while in bed, and maybe even an hour or so prior.
2. Avoid high carb meals for dinner, and especially high sugar snacks before bed.
3. Consider doing an easy test that measures cortisol levels in your saliva throughout the day, to see if your levels are where they should be. This test can be ordered and reviewed in our Champlin wellness clinic.

It’s time you start taking control of your sleep. Sleep is one of the most critical parts to optimal brain health and every poor night of sleep can lead to more trouble down the road. Call today to discuss with one of our providers about how we can help you.

Erik Starr, DC

Erik Starr, DC