Blog – Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy
Friday December 13, 2019

High Blood Pressure and You

high blood pressure

Do you know your numbers? Do you know what blood pressure numbers are considered high? Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure and many don’t even know it!  Your blood pressure is considered high when the top number is between 130-139mmHg OR the bottom is between 80-89mmHg.  It is called Stage 1 Hypertension if either the top OR the bottom number are in those ranges. Stage 2 Hypertension is 140(or higher)/90 (or higher).  If either of your blood pressure numbers are higher than 180/120 consult your physician immediately.  A normal blood pressure is the top number being less than 120 and the bottom number less than 80.

Your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) increase with age, but there is hope because getting some exercise can make a big difference.  Getting regular exercise can help control blood pressure.  Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger and a stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort.  If your heart is a more efficient pump, your blood pressure will decrease.

Becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure -the top number in a blood pressure reading – by an average of 5 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).  This is the same amount as some blood pressure medication.  For some people, exercise can reduce the need for blood pressure medication.  As you age, exercise can keep your blood pressure from rising and may help prevent high blood pressure.  Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight which is another important way to control blood pressure.   

It takes aerobic activity to control high blood pressure, but you don’t need to spend hours every day to benefit. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.  Mowing the lawn, raking leaves or even scrubbing the floor is considered exercise if it takes effort!  Other common forms of aerobic activity include climbing stairs, walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming.  Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.  Remember it does not need to be all at once, short bouts of exercise throughout the day also count toward your 30 minutes, so park in a parking space farther away from the door to increase activity!

If you would like to try strength training exercises, make sure you have your doctor’s OK.  Some of these exercises may increase your blood pressure, especially if you hold your breath while contracting your muscles.  Strength training can have long term positive benefits to blood pressure, so it is a good thing to add to your exercise routine a couple of times per week.

High blood pressure is very prominent in the US and is called the “silent killer” because there are no obvious symptoms. Remember, you can help control and prevent high blood pressure with regular exercise and activity.

Thursday December 12, 2019

Winter Running

winter running

By: Todd Schemper, PT, DPT, OCS

Running in the winter can be a wonderful experience.  Breathing in the brisk air and seeing the beautiful snow are part of the sport.  Maintaining your fitness throughout the cold months of the year is important for overall health.  Whether you tackle running in the frigid outdoors, or prefer the indoor methods of treadmill, track, or pool running, winter running is a great way to keep up your fitness over the months to come.


Starting a running program or continuing your favorite sport during the winter does take some planning.  Primarily, the clothing you wear will be a little different.  But you may be surprised at how little you need to wear to stay warm.  Using light layers is more suitable than wearing bulky clothes or lots of layers.  The essentials include: running pants/tights, a moisture wicking long sleeve shirt, and a breathable/windproof jacket.  Other items that help keep you warm are gloves or mittens and a headband or hat.  Wearing traction cleats on your shoes also works well for safety in icy conditions.  Taking along some ID and wearing reflective or bright clothing is also advisable.  With this attire donned you should be ready for temperatures into the low 20-degree range. 

The next step is to choose your route.  It has been said that it is easier to run than walk on ice, simply because of where your center of gravity is in relationship to your base of support.  Either way I recommend finding a road, sidewalk, or trail that has been cleared and is safe.  Make sure to take shorter steps when you are on ice and slow down when turning corners to prevent falls.  Take a few weeks to get used to the cooler weather, as it may be more difficult to breathe.  Head out and enjoy.


Running on the treadmill is another common way to maintain running fitness during the winter.  These machines come in many variations.  Whether used at home or at the gym, working out on a treadmill can be an excellent way to get your heart pumping and your body moving.  When starting out, make sure you are comfortable with your balance.  On a treadmill you keep your body from being moved backwards, unlike on land where you are moving your body forwards.  As you increase the amount of time you run, try running at a variety of paces and elevations to get a more balanced leg workout and to prevent repetitive overuse injuries.


There are a number of health clubs in the area with indoor tracks that are conducive for running.  Tracks can be used on those really cold days or when it is dark.  When running on a track remember to alternate the direction that you are running and run the curves as wide and gradual as possible to avoid any increased ankle, knee, or hip strain from taking tight corners.  Try to run an equal number of laps clockwise and counterclockwise.  Also, to avoid injury, try to balance your track running during the week with another mode of running or other aerobic activities.


Pool running is not only an important form of exercise for fitness maintenance following a running injury, but a great alternative to indoor treadmill or cold outdoor winter running.  The most common way to pool run is to use a jogging flotation device (they can be found at most health clubs or indoor public pools).  Strap the device on, head for the deep end, and start running.  This is an excellent non-impact simulation of the running motion.  Your body will not move very fast or far, but you can vary the speed of your running to change the workout intensity.  Start with 15-20 minutes of exercise and see how it feels.  To make the activity more of a challenge, pool run without using a flotation device.


If you are the racing type, having a winter race goal is a way to keep your workouts focused.  Either pick out a local winter race or even better, plan a destination run vacation around an event located in a warm weather location.  This just might be your motivator or reward for getting back into shape after the holidays.

Whatever type of winter running you choose, pick what you will enjoy and be consistent with it.  Have a great winter and watch out for ice!

Monday December 9, 2019

Kinetic Edge Team Attends PPS Conference

PPS 2020 Conference

During November, the Kinetic Edge providers had the opportunity to attend the Private Practice Sector Conference in Orlando, Florida. The PPS Conference is a four-day event that showcases health and fitness-based products, medical systems, physical therapy, rehab and gym-based products and services.

We were able to gather some insight from three of our physical therapists from their experience at this year’s PPS conference. Matt Scotton (Newton Clinic Manager) and Carol Kelderman (Oskaloosa Clinic Manager) were attending for the third time, while this was Tim Vander Wilt’s (Ames Clinic Manager) first time. Some of their biggest takeaways from the conference were how passionate private practice physical therapists truly are, and how they all enjoy learning from other therapists who are intentional about the future of physical therapy.

When asked what they plan to implement into their own daily routines after attending the conference, Matt is planning to ask more questions to help people create a more effective plan that will help them achieve their health and fitness goals. Tim would like to expand his reach through social media, and Carol is looking forward to implementing concepts related to customer service and communication.

During the conference, the therapists attended a variety of breakout sessions, and all three Kinetic Edge therapists said they gleaned many things from these sessions. Carol enjoyed learning about the future of telehealth and understanding how it is currently being used in physical therapy. Other stand-out sessions focused on team building and creating a healthy work environment.

The Kinetic Edge team looks forward to the PPS Conference every year, knowing they will come away with additional training and insight into the therapy field, and how to ultimately grow their knowledge and stay up to date on all things related to physical therapy.

To find out more about the Private Practice Sector and next year’s conference visit

2020 PPS Conference

Monday December 9, 2019

Knee Osteoarthritis: Is it a Lifetime Sentence for Pain?

knee osteoarthritis

by Dr. Troy Vander Molen, Doctor of Physical Therapy

Tell me if this story sounds familiar.December Newsletter Picture

For years you’ve been healthy and active. You prided yourself on your strong work ethic and ability to get things done. You have loved going on adventures and seeing the world. Nothing could stop you from doing what you set your mind to. For years, you’ve enjoyed a dynamic, energized lifestyle.

Then you began to experience knee pain. At first, you could ignore it. It would come and go. Sometimes you limped a bit, but most of the time you could hide it.

Eventually, it became too common, too significant. So, you broke down and scheduled an appointment with your doctor. X-rays confirmed what you feared: You have degenerative knee osteoarthritis.

Your medical provider probably told you that this is a “wear and tear” phenomenon, that your cartilage has worn away. For too many years, the pressure you’ve exerted on your knees with every step resulted in cumulative trauma that has left you with less cushion in your knee joint, and now each step is painful. You may have to change your lifestyle.

I have a confession to make. I used to counsel people in this way too. I used to tell people that knee osteoarthritis is a mechanical wear and tear process. Then, I’d tell them that there’s good news. If you exercise, it can get better.

Sometimes people responded to my message with a look of relief. All too often, though, they would give me a skeptical look.

Looking back, I can appreciate why someone would be skeptical with my mixed message. If knee osteoarthritis is a wear and tear process, why in the world would you want me to exercise more? Won’t that do more harm?

As time has gone by, I’m happy to report that we know more about knee osteoarthritis, and the newest research is a great cause for hope. The good news is that our old theories about knee osteoarthritis were wrong. If osteoarthritis is a wear and tear phenomenon, why is osteoarthritis of the knee and hip found to be less common in runners?

Osteoarthritis does involve thinning or loss of cartilage on the ends of your bones at the articular cartilage. But it turns out that in people that develop knee arthritis without prior injuries, knee osteoarthritis is actually a biological inflammatory process, not a mechanical process.

You see, in our joints we have hundreds of biological markers that are made by the lining of the knee joint. In a healthy state, the chemicals that are created actually support cartilage health and nutrition.

But, in an unhealthy state – whether it’s due to injury, metabolism, weight, or diet – the knee joint changes in ways that are similar to what we see in other chronic disease states. The unfriendly chemicals produced in the diseased state are hostile to the health of our cartilage, and over time the presence of those unhealth chemicals eventually cause injury to the articular cartilage cells. And then the cartilage is not equipped to handle physical stress.

Osteoarthritis is actually a low-grade chronic inflammation, the same type of inflammation that causes Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver, and other metabolic diseases.

So, what are we to do about it? Here are seven things we can do to combat knee osteoarthritis:

  1. Stay active. Walking, playing tennis, and most weightbearing activities are extremely healthy, and you should continue them as long as the pain is mild. Engaging in these activities with mild pain will not shorten the lifespan of your knee. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. If you maintain or gain strength, flexibility, and endurance, you will delay or eliminate the need for more aggressive medical interventions.
  1. Forget about what your x-ray looked like and the awful words often contained in the x-ray report. Isn’t it funny how we refer to changes to the joint using the scary term degenerative joint disease, but we never refer to wrinkles as degenerative skin disease! Changes to our joints over time are as normal as developing wrinkles on our skins. Most people that do not experience knee pain would have evidence of arthritic changes if their knees were scanned. The presence of arthritis is not closely correlated with knee pain, which means that you can feel and function exceptionally well even if you have been told you have knee arthritis.
  1. Perform strengthening activities. Research shows that weakness of thigh muscles is associated with a higher incidence of knee pain. Strengthening exercises (as well as other forms of exercise) have been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, exercise will have a positive impact on your entire body, not just your knees. And, strengthening improves your stability, balance, and proprioception, which will decrease your injury rate.
  1. Commit to doing aerobic exercise. Doing activities that increase your heart rate will stimulate the production of your natural anti-inflammatory chemicals, which reduces joint pain.
  1. Work on your balance. The trauma caused by a fall from catching your toes on the carpet can create a painful arthritic joint experience. Usually these balance issues are the result of a combination of things: loss of muscle mass, delayed neurological input from our limbs, and potentially inner ear changes. All of these things can be strengthened with appropriate balance training, just like an arm curl makes our biceps muscle stronger.
  1. Learn more about the impact of diet and metabolism. Did you know that only 12% of Americans are considered metabolically healthy? You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. In addition to a large variety of metabolic disorders – heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and dementia to name a few – your metabolic health affects your risk of developing osteoarthritis. Processed foods and sugar are not our friends, and processed foods are way too common in America. Consider consulting with a licensed dietician to learn more about joint healthy food choices to reduce your knee pain.
  1. Be positive. A positive attitude will help you get through challenging experiences. Remember, you are in control of your knee pain. There are many things that you can do to feel better and function better. Find people with whom you can surround yourself to stay positive and commit to an active approach to eliminating the pain of knee osteoarthritis.

Don’t get me wrong. The pain you experience in your knee due to osteoarthritis is real. The cartilage in the knee itself does not have nerve endings, so it will not hurt in and of itself. But the issues we’ve discussed above can create changes to the thin tissue that wraps around your bone (periosteum), the lining of the joint (synovium), or the bone itself, and all of those structures have lots of nerve endings that can cause pain.

If you do have pain because of these issues, it will often calm down after a few weeks or months, especially if you take a positive, active approach using the strategies outlined above. If you are looking for guidance on how to reduce knee pain as quickly as possible, contact us to pursue a course of physical therapy at any one of our clinic locations (Pella, Des Moines, Oskaloosa, Newton, Ames, Centerville, or Waukee) by calling 866-588-0230.

Tuesday December 3, 2019

20 Sensory Development Christmas Gift Ideas

Lycra tunnel

by Elise Spronk, Occupational Therapist 

Take a trip down memory lane with me. Think back to your best memory of gift opening at Christmas. Can you recall a favorite gift you received? How did it look, sound, feel? More importantly, how did it make you feel when you received it?

Elise Spronk Christmas giftMy first memories race toward homemade doll clothes made from scraps of my own clothing, a magical musical thing, and a cladly dressed teddy bear I had wanted for months. The joy I felt receiving gifts as a child has transformed into the joy I feel giving gifts to my children.

However, the desire to give the perfect gift can sometimes be stressful and take away from the joy of giving. To make it a little easier for you this year,  I’ve compiled a list of 20 Sensory Development Christmas Gift Ideas. They are sure to bring joy to the kids you love this Christmas while also developing brains and sensory systems.

Movement: The movement (vestibular) sense gives us a physical reference that helps us make sense of visual information, particularly where we are in relation to other things.  It builds the foundations for handwriting, bilateral coordination, and most physical activities.  We even move to listen better as movement stimulates the listening centers of the brain.  Kids with vestibular processing problems may need to move more.  Children who cannot process movement must use their vision to compensate.  They might be clumsy, fall out of chairs, be slow to complete work, or appear disorganized.

  1. Trampoline: There are a variety of indoor and outdoor models that are great. One client’s mom recommended the Skywalker Trampoline for indoor play. It has a safety net that can be removed as the child grows and no longer needs this feature.
  2. Outdoor play set: Gross motor and pretend play are both developed during play with a backyard play set. I especially love the ones that also include a fort, probably from fond memories of making mud pies as a child.
  3. Dizzy Disc Junior: This helps develop balance, coordination, spatial awareness and sensory stimulation for children 3+ years of age. The Dizzy Disc Junior is very durable and can be used for kids up to 200 pounds.
  4. Lycra sensory tunnelLycra tunnel: I prefer the homemade versions of these tunnels because they are way more economical… if you know someone who sews. I purchased a 10-foot-long piece of lycra/cotton blend fabric and double stitched the ends together to make a tunnel. Kids love to crawl, do animal walks, push balls, and even just hideout and relax inside these tunnels.
  5. Swings: Indoor and outdoor swings are a great way to provide calming sensory input. I especially love pod swings for calming, and platform swings for sitting on while doing other fine motor activities.
  6. Experiences including memberships and tickets to places such as the zoo, science center, trampoline park, local recreation centers make a great gift that keeps on giving all year long. If you’re local to the Des Moines are, you can get a year long pass to the Blank Park Zoo and Science Center of Iowa for $153.

Tactile: The tactile sense comes from how we interpret information from the receptors on our skin. When you feel something, your nervous system helps you sense the object’s pressure, texture, traction, and other tactile qualities. Some kids experience difficulty processing tactile information. You might notice your child is over-reactive if he avoids certain textures, doesn’t like getting messy, avoids certain foods, or doesn’t like certain clothing items. On the other hand, some kids are under-reactive which is evident in behaviors like loving to touch and be touched, fiddling with objects in their hands, or fearlessly touching everything they see, even if the object might be dangerous. These gifts help promote a healthy tactile system.

  1. Kinetic sand: This can be purchased or make your own following our recipe!  Even older kids like to play with kinetic sand as it is very calming. It’s not that messy so kids with tactile sensitivities can explore without aversion.
  2. sensory Water beadsWater beads: Walmart sells a large jar for $8.97, often in the craft/color section of the store. This is a great bargain as a medium-sized container can be made with only a few tablespoons of the small beads. If you can’t pick this up at your local Walmart, you can order this pack online. A trick I’ve learned is to add salt and keep the lid off to preserve freshness. I also hide small beads in the water beads for kids to search and then string.
  3. Kits to make homemade slime: I prefer using homemade recipes from Pinterest but you can also purchase a slime kit like this one.
  4. Soft fleece homemade blankets and weighted blankets: Weighted blankets should be 7-10% of the child’s weight. Fleece tie blankets are easy to make for the non-sewers and add a personal touch since you make them yourself!

Vision: Vision helps us process, understand, and take action in our environment. Most kids develop a strong visual system simply by participating in activities that encourage visual exploration in their everyday environment. These gifts will help promote a healthy visual system!

  1. Liquid motion bubbler: These liquid motion bubblers are small, fascinating toys that can provide visual stimulation for a child and are a good alternative to technology.
  2. Light-Brite: This is an oldie but a goodie. I prefer the slanted Light Brites that may be considered “vintage”. By having the board angled there is an additional benefit of improving fine motor coordination training with encouraging wrist extension. This is a fun, entertaining way to work on eye-hand coordination skills.
  3. Spot It: These three games are some of our favorite visual perception games to use in the clinic, especially with older kids.
  4. Kanoodle
  5. Q-Bitz Extreme
  6. Slick Trick Bouncing Bubbles: Watching bubbles can be very calming for kids. And if you add in having them try to catch the bubbles, you can work on eye-hand coordination.

Auditory: A healthy auditory system allows for children to respond appropriately and naturally to sounds. Your child might be struggling with auditory processing if they are distracted by unimportant noises or if they miss out on important noises, such as directions from a teacher. If your child has outbursts as a result of noisy environments or tries to avoid noisy environments, he is likely hypersensitive to noise. If your child seems like she doesn’t hear things around her or doesn’t respond appropriately to auditory input (like her name being called), she may be hyposensitive to noise. These gifts help with a child’s auditory system.

  1. Rain stick: Encourage imagination, motor skills, and auditory stimulation with a rain stick!
  2. Musical instrument set: This might be a better gift to give to your niece or nephew since sometimes music sets drive parents crazy (Ha!). Music sets provide sound stimulation while allowing kids to work on rhythm and motor skills including using their right and left hands at the same time or with alternating movements.
  3. Simon: This is another toy that’s made a comeback that has both auditory and visual sensory benefits. Simon works on reaction time, auditory-visual-and hand coordination. Kids can play alone or with a friend.
  4. Rocktopus: With three ways to play, Think & Learn Rocktopus helps kids explore a variety of musical styles while learning about different instruments, rhythmic patterns, and more. Rocktopus comes with 15 musical instrument pods for preschoolers to mix (and remix) and let their creativity flow!

*These are organized by sensory system categories and are not meant to be an endorsement for any particular brand.

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