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

Dizziness and Vertigo: The Vitamin D Connection

Each day at Team Health Care Clinic, patients come to us with symptoms of vertigo and dizziness. These may be symptoms that have been there for a matter of hours, or even years. People often experience severe bouts of dizziness, strong sensations of spinning and nausea. To help our patients get relief from these debilitating symptoms, we provide treatment and make recommendations that address the causes of dizziness and vertigo. 

What Causes Dizziness

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of dizziness that we see in our Champlin clinic. This condition is caused by calcium crystals that become dislodged from their usual position in the inner ear.

How Vitamin D HelpsCauses Dizziness Vertigo

The main role of vitamin D in the body is to help maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is responsible for absorbing calcium, which plays many roles in maintaining a healthy body, including strengthening bone and decreasing fractures. Vitamin D also helps in protecting against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases.

We are now learning about the role vitamin D plays in helping patients with dizziness and vertigo. Past studies have shown vitamin D deficiency can lead to BPPV. Additionally, research has shown that those who have BPPV and are also deficient in vitamin D have more severe symptoms of vertigo.

This two-fold role that vitamin D deficiency plays in causing BPPV and making the symptoms more severe makes it even more important that your levels are in the proper range. If you haven’t had your vitamin D levels checked before, a simple blood test can be done to see if your levels are in a functional range.

Chiropractic and Physical Therapy for Dizziness

Our chiropractors and physical therapists work with a multitude of patients who have dizziness and vertigo, including BPPV. We provide chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, nutrition support and more to help decrease symptoms and get our patients feeling better faster.

Each of the doctors and physical therapists in our clinic are trained in repositioning the crystals in the inner ear to provide relief from the vertigo that patients experience. The name of this procedure is called an Epley Maneuver. This safe, quick, and very effective maneuver can be done in just a minute or two. Patients often feel immediate relief. 

Erik Starr, DC

Erik Starr, DC

Physical Therapy and Joint Replacement

A joint replacement (arthroplasty) is a surgical procedure where an arthritic, injured, or damaged joint is replaced with an artificial joint. The artificial joint can be made of metal, plastic, or ceramic. Joint replacements are done in the knee, hip, and shoulder to name a few. Replacing a joint that is painful and not functioning helps to restore the movement like a healthy joint. Physical therapists play a large role in the joint replacement process.

Physical Therapy Before Replacement

  • Education:

You will be educated about your joint replacement procedure, what to expect at the hospital, and aftercare at home. Your doctor may even have an education class they require you to take prior to your procedure.

  • Exercises:

Often times, people physical therapy to start strength exercises before surgery. You will also become familiar and confident with your exercises, and will be able to resume them right after surgery. Increasing strength in the muscles around the joint will improve your recovery and decrease the level of therapy services needed after surgery.

  • Assistive device preparation:

If your joint replacement is in the hip or the knee you will be using a cane or a walker initially after your surgery. Physical therapists fit your device and help you practice walking and climbing stairs.

Physical Therapy After Replacement

Patients will continue with therapy after their surgery for several weeks.

After joint replacement our goal is to decrease pain and swelling, monitor healing, start strength exercises, and walking.

  • Pain and swelling:

This can make it difficulty and uncomfortable to perform your therapy exercises. We monitor the swelling, incision healing and help with techniques to decrease the pain.

  • Exercises:

We will teach you range of motion exercises that are safe to perform with your new joint. We will also work on exercises to gain strength in the muscles around your new joint to provide support with movement. Over a brief time of doing your exercise routine you will gain better function of your joint.

  • Gait training and balance:

If you have a hip or a knee replacement, our Champlin physical therapy providers will guide you in walking with your assistive device and progress to walking without it. We will work on balance and agility with you movements, so you feel confident walking on uneven surfaces such as grass or stepping off a curb.


We continue to progress your tailored therapy program to meet your needs and, returning you to your activity level the injured joint was limiting you from.

Andrea Newport, PT

Andrea Newport, PT

Understanding Numbness and Nerve Pain

A patient and I were discussing today how nice it would be if we could diagnose our health problems in a similar way to car problems. When we have problems with our car, our mechanic connects it to a machine that generates a diagnostic code. Unfortunately, with people, it’s not always easy to understand the source of pain or the cause of our limited mobility.  In healthcare we do have a variety of different testing or diagnostic tools but it still can be challenging to get to the root of the cause for what is going on when someone is having pain. 

What if you are experiencing numbness, tingling and/or pain in your fingers or hands?  As medical providers, we understand that this could be caused by issues stemming all the way to your neck.  It could also be coming from issues in your shoulder, elbow or wrist.

You may have what we call radiating symptoms, which include pain or a feeling that is not just in one area but moves to another area.  Sometimes it will follow in a line that you can feel numbness from your shoulder blade into your forearm or you might feel tingling only in your fingertips.  When there is degeneration in your neck or cervical spine this can cause damage or irritation to the nerves which travel all the way down to your fingers. 

There are 3 main branches of nerves:

  1. Median Nerve: This nerve runs along the inside of the arm and travels through into the 1st through 3rd fingers or thumb to middle finger.
  2. Ulnar Nerve: Runs along the inside of the arm and elbow and into the outer part of the hand and 5th digit or little finger. 
  3. Radial Nerve:  Runs along the back of the arm and into the 1st through 4th digits or thumb to ring finger. 

There can be many causes but there are also a wide variety of treatments for these very uncomfortable symptoms.  Because our bodies are so complex, we often need to address several areas to stimulate healing and help you feel better. Finding a well rounded team of providers will help you achieve the best outcomes from any necessary treatment. In our Champlin, MN clinic, we have medical, physical therapy and chiropractic providers that work together to understand the cause of pain and recommend the appropriate plan of action. 

Emily Franklin, PTA

Hip Flexors and Low Back Pain: A Surprising Connection

Hip flexor tightness can affect many individuals, young, old, active, and sedentary. Many of the patients in our clinic that suffer from low back pain don’t realize that tightness in the hip flexors can be a contributing factor. In this blog, we explore mechanics of the hip flexor, what you can do to prevent hip flexor tightness and treatment techniques for those who are experiencing pain.


The hip flexors are a group muscles that cross the front of the hip.

Some of the muscles are:

Iliacus: this one attaches from the iliac crest to the femur (leg bone)

Psoas Major: attaches from your lumbar vertebra to your femur

Rectus Femoris: this quad muscle crosses the hip and the knee and controls hip and knee movement.


The muscles need to keep a balance to hold the bones of the body together. If there is tightness in a muscle group it causes imbalanced for on the bones, and pulls the bones out of a neutral alignment. Poor alignment places strain and stress on the affected joints and causes pain.  When the hip flexors are tight this causes a pull on the spine resulting in an anterior tilt of the pelvis. This anterior pelvic tilt causes an increase in lordosis or curve in the low back. Because the psoas attaches to the lumbar vertebra, hip flexor tightness is often a contributor to chronic low back pain. If not addressed, eventually the increased lordosis and anterior pelvic tilt can also weaken the abdominal muscles. Our abdominal muscles are needed to support the pelvis and the lumbar spine. Think of them as a natural corset for the trunk providing stability.

Preventing Injury

We all know what stretching is, and most of us have probably done some stretching movements at some point in our lives. We hear about stretching to prevent injury, to warm up, and to gain flexibility but is it really that necessary? Stretching and flexibility is especially important when it comes to hip flexors and back pain.

Sitting can cause an increase in hip flexor tightness as well as running or biking without performing stretches needed to maintain muscle length.

Treating Hip Flexor Tightness

There are many pieces to the puzzle that tight hip flexors can affect with the balancing act our body does with muscles and bones. Tightness in the muscles can be treated with myofascial release, soft tissue mobilization, stretching, and kinesiotaping. Targeted exercises are given for the areas that are weak to help return muscle balance. Therapists in our clinic assess the posture, muscle lengths and weaknesses. We determine what muscles groups need to be addressed as well as what is causing the imbalance. Treating the cause of the imbalance causing the symptom is what will make life long changes.


Andrea Newport, PT

Andrea Newport, PT

Improving Balance with Physical Therapy

At Team Health Care Clinic in Champlin, MN our team sees clients daily that have trouble with balance. Physical therapists offer many different techniques to treat balance with attention to your specific needs. Trouble with balance makes it difficult for people to hold themselves upright and steady when they are trying to walk, stand and even sit. Although the risk of having poor balance increases with age, balance issues are common in every age group.

What causes loss of balance?

There are 4 areas that help our bodies control balance:

  • Vision
  • Inner ear (vestibular)
  • Proprioception and muscle control
  • Brain – coordinates all of these systems to help us maintain our balance.

Medical conditions and lifestyle factors may contribute to a loss of balance, including:

  • Poor joint mobility
  • Muscle weakness
  • Inner ear problems
  • Medications
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Medical conditions such as a Stroke or Parkinsons’ disease

Poor Balance: What does it feel like?

A person with a balance issue may feel swaying, dizziness, vertigo, tripping, stumbling, and many times touching walls and furniture as they walk. Balance can be fine in a static position doing just 1 thing at a time. But when you try dynamic movements with multiple tasks, such as walking and looking at the shelves in the grocery store, or using the bathroom in the dark at night, the difficulty with balance can be more pronounced. These are all indications that a person’s balance is affected and needs to be addressed.

How Can My Physical Therapist Help?

Our physical therapists and chiropractors at Team Health Care are trained to assess the multiple systems affecting balance. We test the inner ear, muscle strength, joint range of motion, visual tracking, sensation, and body position awareness. In physical therapy we will also perform a balance test. In some cases it may be recommended that you use an assistive device such as a cane or a walker. We know this can be a difficult transition, and the assistive device doing more than just preventing you from falling. In therapy we look at it from the perspective of facilitating a “normal” movement pattern for your body to help improve your balance. This is only one part of the many movements and techniques we use to improve your balance. We will develop a specific treatment for you including movements and exercises you can do at home.

You don’t have to sustain a fall to have your balance assessed. I you are experiencing any difficulty with equilibrium, walking, standing or don’t feel confident in your balance it is important to seek your provider to have your systems that control balance assessed.

Andrea Newport, PT

Andrea Newport, PT

Piriformis Syndrome: A Pain in the Butt

You have probably heard the phrase “What a pain in the butt!” There are many for whom this becomes quite literal as they experience pain, numbness, tingling or a combination of these in the buttocks and can also radiate into the back of the leg and even into the foot. These symptoms can have a variety of causes but one less common one is Piriformis Syndrome.

The piriformis is a flat band-like muscle in the buttocks that originates just above your tailbone(sacroiliac region) and attaches to the top portion of the femur or upper thigh bone. With overuse from things such as long distance running, prolonged sitting, dehydration or even electrolyte abnormalities the piriformis muscle may spasm. The sciatic nerve is nearby which can be affected by the muscle spasm and nerve irritations cause symptoms such as numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot.

One way to help a muscle in spasm is to gently stretch it out. To stretch the piriformis, lay on your back with your knees bent. Cross your right ankle over your left knee and pull right knee up towards chest angled towards left shoulder. Repeat other side.

Other conditions can produce similar symptoms so it is important to consult your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms described in this post. The providers at Team Health Care Clinic have experience with a variety of conditions including Piriformis Syndrome and will recommend a treatment plan to help you recover as quickly as possible.

Emily Franklin, PTA

Tech Neck and Physical Therapy

Most of our kids have settled into their school routines, which require a greater use of computers and technology than ever before. Team Health Care Clinic’s physical therapists see many patients in our clinic with poor posture from technology use. With today’s technology we have seen a decline in good posture, and an increase in pain– often referred to as “tech neck.” Technology is here to stay, so self-awareness, education, and practicing good posture habits are necessary for our overall health.


Good Posture

When you are in neutral posture the shoulders are back and the ears are in line with the shoulders and the arms hang at the sides with the palms toward the legs.

Poor Posture

There is an increased forward curve of the neck that causes the head to move forward. The head is perched forward, the shoulders are rounded and possibly a head tilt or rotation.

Effects of Poor Posture

The muscles on the front of the neck and the mid back are stretched from the forward movement of the head, and become weak. The muscles on the back of the neck and the front of the shoulders become tight. These muscle imbalances cause neck pain due to muscle fatigue, strain, displacement stress on the joints, and loss of motion.

Posture with Technology Use

A flexed posture when working on your computer or mobile device loads the spine causing more stress. When the neck is neutral the head places about10-12 pounds of load to the cervical spine. When you flex the neck to 30 degrees you place 40 pounds of load on your spine and when you flex forward to 60 degrees the load is 60 pounds. The average kid, according to the Department of Health spends 3 hours a day using screen media. That is a significant amount of repetitive strain on the neck and upper back, and will impact over all spine health.

Neck Pain Prevention

There are a few simple things you can do right now to decrease the stress on your neck with the use of technology:

  • Set time limits for using your devices
  • Take frequent brakes
  • Raise your device – hold your phone in front of you and raise your computer monitor so your neck is neutral.
  • Stretch
  • Use pain as a warning and take a break or re-adjust your position
  • Alternate position of workstation from seated to standing

If you experience pain in the neck, upper back, or numbness and tingling in the arms it is time to seek help. Physical therapy and chiropractic assessments will determine what posture, joint, and muscle dysfunctions are causing pain and symptoms. Addressing neutral posture in physical therapy treatments is valuable in providing efficient and lasting relief of neck pain and vital to a healthy spine and healthy living.

Andrea Newport, PT

Andrea Newport, PT