Okoboji 200

In only 10 days I will be taking part in the Okoboji 200 bike ride.  This event is a 200 mile one way trip from West Des Moines to Okoboji on June 28th. My friend Rocky Vest started this ride two years ago.  The cause associated with the ride is to raise funds to restore victims of human trafficking in Nepal.   Please join me in supporting this great need.  You can learn more about the event at Okoboji 200.

My training has gone well with many 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 mile rides over the past few months.  I more concerned about my seat and my neck, than my legs and lungs. On Saturday I had a great training ride from Des Moines to the Missouri border.  Lots of wind and hills along the way. I have enjoyed training with the Ok200 crew and further exploring the trails and roads of central Iowa.

Thank you for supporting the Okoboji 200!


Go Red

Friday, February 1 is National Wear Red Day.  This day draws attention to fighting heart disease in women. Work Systems Rehab & Fitness is celebrating this day by sponsoring a Go Red event.

Join us anytime at our downtown Des Moines clinic on February 1, from 11:30 – 1:30pm for fun, food, information, and prizes!

A free fitness assessment will include:

  • Fitness level
  • Body fat percent
  • Body mass index
  • Total body water percent
  • Waist circumference
  • Resting blood pressure
  • Resting heart rate

The menu includes:

  • Almond snack mix
  • Carrot ginger soup
  • Roasted red bell pepper and artichoke tapenade
  • Dark chocolate
  • Pomegranate tea
  • Cherry vanilla tea

Be sure to wear RED!

Please call 515-309-4706 if you have questions about the Go Red event.

Tim Vander Wilt, PT, ATC, CSCS

Tim Vander Wilt, PT, ATC, CSCS joined Work System Rehab & Fitness this summer and helped open our new Ames clinic.  We are excited for what he brings to our company and to the Ames market.  He is a great Physical Therapist and is excited about helping individuals in Ames with their rehab and fitness needs.

Why did you choose Physical Therapy as a profession?

I have always thought the body was fascinating and enjoyed learning about it.  I also participated in many sports when I was young.  Both seemed to fit into things that I enjoyed, so I decided to become a Physical Therapist. 

Where did you go to Physical Therapy school? 

I attend Des Moines University for my Physical Therapy degree.

What area of Physical Therapy have you mainly practiced in?

The area I have practiced in for most of my career has been outpatient general orthopedics and sports medicine.

What would you say is your treatment approach?

I prefer to encourage functionally based therapy.  The majority of my treatments consist of exercise based therapy along with manual treatments.  I like my treatments to “fit” the needs of my patients. 

How have you advanced your skills as a Physical Therapist? 

I have participated in continuing education courses that challenge my current practices and I feel are quality treatment approaches.  One of the courses that had a good impact on me was Gary Gray’s Functional Transformation course.  Also the Explain Pain course really helped me understand the biological basis of pain.  I have also tried to read literature/research to educate myself regarding the most effective treatment strategies. 

Share about your family. 

My wife and I have been married for 11 years.  We have four children (3 boys and 1 girl) that are 9 and under in age.  We have great energetic kids, that keep us quite busy!

What are your hobbies/interests? 

I love to play sports, especially golf.  I have become a more active runner in the last 5 years.  I also enjoy spending time with family, friends, and being active with our church.  Watching the Iowa Hawkeyes basketball and football games is another hobby. 

Anything else you would like to add? 

I am excited about the opportunity to work at Work Systems Rehab & Fitness.  I am also excited about being a health coach and helping improve lives by encouraging healthy lifestyles. 

Tim is offering Physical Therapy, Orthopedic Care, Industrial Rehab, Sports Medicine, Vestibular Rehab, and Health Coaching in Ames.

To schedule an appointment with Tim, please call Work Systems Rehab & Fitness – Ames at 515-337-1037.

Beginner's Yoga

Work Systems Rehab is excited to announce the addition of the Beginner’s Yoga class to our clinic programming.  The yoga class is a part of the new MOG (Medically Oriented Gym) program that we are starting in September.  More information about the MOG will be coming soon.  

The Beginner’s Yoga class was the idea of Physical Therapist Kate Cardamon, PT, CMTPT, RYT. Kate has had an interested in fitness related programming for many years.  She has attained her registered yoga teacher designation and is excited to share her yoga knowledge with those coming to the class.

Here are some details on the Beginner’s Yoga class.

Where: Work Systems Rehab – Des Moines

When: Tuesdays at 5:15pm, starting on September 11th, 2012

Who: Anyone interested in a yoga class led by a Physcial Therapist who can adapt the activity to their specific need.

The first class on September 11th is FREE.  Please bring a yoga mat and water bottle.  Contact Work Systems Rehab to sign up.

World RTS Day


July 3 has been designated as World RTS Day.  Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome is a rare genetic syndrome.  It was coined almost 50 years ago by Dr. Rubinstein and Dr. Taybi.  Individuals with RTS may have a variety of medical issues and all have developmental delays. Some of the medical issues include heart problems, tethered spinal cord, vertebral abnormalities, feeding problems, and gastroesophageal reflux.  A characteristic of those with RTS is broad thumbs and big toes.  These may require surgery for improved alignment and function.  Those with RTS are usually very happy and social.

My daughter Kate was born with RTS, so learning about this syndrome has been a big part of our lives for the past three and a half years.

To learn more about World RTS Day and RTS in general go to the official World RTS Day website.

Hamstring Activation

The hamstrings are one of the most important muscle groups for runners.  Stretching the hamstrings is a common activity for runners.   If you have been stretching your hamstrings for quite a while and do not seem to be gaining any mobility, you may need to focus on activating these muscles and building strength instead.  Increasing hamstring strength is one way to keep them from feeling tight and strained. 

Three Muscles

There are three hamstring muscles in each leg.  They attach at the top end at the ischial tuberosity (sit bone).  On the lower end the outer hamstring, biceps femoris, attaches on the femur (thigh bone) and the fibula (outer shin bone).  The semitendonosus and semimembranosus, inner hamstrings, attach on the inside of the upper tibia (shin bone). The hamstrings not only bend the knee but also help with extending the hip, rotating the hip, stabilizing the pelvis, and slowing down knee extension. 


Focusing on getting the hamstrings warmed up prior to exercise and strengthening them are well worth your time if you have had any knee, hip, hamstring, back or shin pain.  Some tips for activating the hamstrings are starting your runs by running uphill, kick-butt running drills, or running at a slight degree of elevation when on the treadmill. 

One dynamic warm-up exercise that is good for the hamstrings prior to running is the standing hamstring curl.  Stand on one leg and bend your opposite knee, lifting your foot up and down.  Your knee should point towards the ground while your calf muscle remains relaxed.  Feel your hamstrings doing the work of lifting and lowering your foot.  Do this pre-run exercise 15 times with each leg.

Another basic pre-running hamstring exercise is the hamstring set.  Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.  Tighten the hamstrings of both legs, slightly lifting your pelvis.  Hold for a few counts and repeat 10-15 times.  Try this exercise with your feet at varying distances from your buttocks.

Functional Strengthening

A more advanced hamstring exercise is performing a forward lunge and adding a forward reach with both of your hands.  Reach towards the floor on either side of your front foot as you lunge forward and return to the starting position.  This forward reaching of your upper body pulls in your hamstrings to stabilize your pelvis and trunk.  Start by doing 10 repetitions with each leg.  It is best to do this exercise after a run and only two times per week initially.  Vary the motion by placing your foot in a slightly different spot each time you step forward.  If you have knee pain adjust your form or discontinue the exercise.


Any activities or exercises to warm-up or strengthen the hamstrings are great for runners.  Lifting your heels slightly more while running, standing curls with ankle weights, the curl machines at the gym (either standing or sitting), pulling back and up with your foot when bicycling, or even pulling yourself around the house in a wheeled desk chair, are all ways to strengthen this important muscle group.

If you have never focused on hamstring strengthening or specific warm-ups for them, give it a try.  You just might be surprised at how your legs feel while running.

Live Healthy Iowa 2012


The Live Healthy Iowa 100 Day Wellness Challenge starts on Monday, January 23.  There is still time to sign up for a team. Contact Work Systems Rehab today to join one of our teams.  We are coordinating groups in all of our locations.

New Year's Dreams


I hope you had a Merry Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year!

Now is a great time to reevaluate your health goals for 2012.  Are you wanting to lose weight? Get more active? Eat healthier? Sleep an extra hour per night? All of the above?  No matter your goals it is important to have a plan and to stick to it, not just for January and February, but for the long term.

Dreams and Aspirations

What are your dreams and aspirations?  Dreams can be as broad as traveling in Europe, climbing Mt. Everest, owning your own home, having a family, or retiring early.  Fitness oriented dreams may be losing weight, exercising for more than two weeks at the beginning of each year, running a marathon, making the basketball team, or trying to get out on the golf course every week.  I am going to use my story about my dream of doing an iron-distance triathlon to talk about turning those dreams reality.

Step One

The first step is to figure out what your dreams are.  Write them down as you brainstorm about this issue. When I was in graduate school, I had a classmate who had been a college swimmer, and she had done an Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run).  I thought if she as a person with only a swimming background could do it, the dream might be possible for me.  I defined my dream.


From your list of dreams you need to pick which ones are attainable.  I once heard that goals are dreams with a deadline.  So set a deadline to a few of your dreams and they will become goals for you to reach.  This may be picking a day a week to golf or setting aside an hour a week to practice your favorite sport or even making time for a few 30 minute walks with your neighbor.  For me it was 10 years ago when I decided that I would sign up to do an iron-distance triathlon in 2002.  That put the deadline on the dream, and I started looking for a race. In December 2001 I found about the Ultramax Triathlon in Lake of the Ozarks, MO, which was to be an inaugural event.  My deadline was set for September 28, 2002.


When you have your goals in place, you can start to plan how the details will all work out. If your goal is to work out at the gym three days a week, you need to make a point of what days those will be so that your plan materializes.  If your goal is to ride your exercise bike daily you need to make time in each day to get that activity in.   My plan was to fit my swim, bike, and run workouts around my busy life of work, church, family, and friends.  If you have a plan you will stick with it, and the goal becomes possible.


The reality of the dream is the capstone of the process.  Your planning, hard work, and dedication have been worthwhile.  Reality for you may be sticking with your aerobics program for a month, or going for a walk over lunch for the whole summer, or even attending a weekly group bike ride all season.  For me it was almost 10 years ago when I crossed the finishline after completing the iron-distance triathlon event.  What starts out as a dream becomes a reality.  The whole process is important.  Enjoy every minute of it.

What’s Next?

After you reach your dreams what do you do?  You evaluate them and take that knowledge with you to the next task in life.  You dream some more and set new goals for the future.

Some important things to remember are to be flexible and do not get down if things do not go as planned.  Find accountability to make the process meaningful.  Encourage others along the way.  Invite someone to play tennis with you, check out cross-country skiing with a family member, or go walk the mall with some friends.  Try planning your dreams into reality.

Did Everyone Have Enough?

Image by angie.doyle via Flikr


I am amazed at this question when eating with friends and family.  When there is a table full of food of many varieties there must be a more appropriate question.  Especially when thinking of improving your health and eating the right portion of food for your needs, a question about enough should be changed to, did anyone eat too much?  A better approach may be to encourage everyone at the beginning of the meal to enjoy the food without over indulging.  Please read on for a few specific tips on how to be thankful this Thanksgiving without regretting eating too much after the
big meal.

Eating and Feasting

It is possible to enjoy some holiday food without loading up on the calories and adding on a few pounds. Consider these tips and plan ahead prior to being tempted to make decisions that were not a part of your health goals.

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast. Start the day by getting your metabolism going. This will help you burn calories most effectively.
  2. Go for the healthier foods first.  Whether this is putting the turkey on your plate, followed by the vegetables and fruits, and then whole grain breads, pick the foods with a higher nutritional value.
  3. Be easy on the less healthy, creamy and saucy foods.  Let these foods fill in the spaces on your plate without heaping on a second layer.
  4. Watch portions.  Overall only take smaller portions of each food.  This way you get to enjoy the taste without getting all the calories of a larger portion.  Consider not going back for seconds and instead just enjoying firsts. You will be able to try the food again later in the day or the next.
  5. Drink water before and during the meal to help create a fuller feeling and decrease the total amount of calories consumed.
  6. Keep your dessert slice small.  Ask for a small piece or a half slice so you can enjoy the taste without feeling stuffed from eating too much.

Activity and Exercise

Being active is another important thing to consider to help with burning the extra calories and preventing the holiday food from hanging around.  Plan on at least 30 minutes of exercise on Thanksgiving Day.  Here are some options.

  1. Encourage a family walk/hike 2-3 hours after eating.
  2. Go bowling as a group for a few hours.
  3. Plan a morning run or look for a Turkey Trot to participate in.
  4. Bundle up and get the bikes out for a bike trail ride.

Be Thankful

We are very blessed in the United States.  There are so many people in this world that do not have enough food to eat and would be amazed at how readily available food is to us.  Remember the abundance we have and be responsible for the choice we have regarding how much to eat.  Focus on your foundational choice of improving your health and let your day to day choices fall in place.  Make sure you are an example for others as someone who had enough, not too much.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Post Race Injury Prevention

Whether your goal is a 5k or marathon, proper post race recovery is important to consider regarding preventing running injuries.  Over the past few years I have worked with a number of runners in my clinic that were injury free with their training and goal race.  Then their injury popped up while getting back into a routine too quickly in the weeks following their event.

No matter if you are Dean Karnazes and can run a marathon every day or someone who has struggled with injuries and recovery and needs more time, it is pertinent to have a recovery plan to help you prevent injury and safely return to your routine.  This article covers four phases of focused recovery.  The length of time for each phase will vary depending on the distance of your race and your individual needs.

Foster Formula

There are many approaches when it comes to post race recovery and prevention.  One concept coined by New Zealander and former world master’s marathon record holder, Jack Foster, is the Foster Formula.  Foster believed that runners should focus on recovery for one day per every mile of the distance they raced.  Thus a 13 day recovery for a half marathon and treat the next 26 days after a marathon as your recovery time.

Active Rest

The first phase of recovery is active rest.  Key factors to consider during this phase are rehydration, rest, and nutrition.  Post race and in the days following, focus on replenishing your body’s fluid and nutrition needs.  Make sure to get adequate post race sleep and rest to ensure muscle recovery.

Icing and muscle work are also great areas to target in this phase.  Focus on icing irritable areas for the first 48-72 hours after a race.  Ice two to three times per day for up to 15 minutes. For working out achy muscles, massage sticks and foam rollers are great tools for promoting blood flow and decreasing soreness.  Emphasize work on the hamstrings, quadriceps, IT bands and calves a few minutes per day.

Regarding activity in the active rest phase, stretching and walking are probably best in the time immediately following your event.  Lightly stretch out your hips, back, quadriceps and calves, focusing on breathing and pain free holds.  This will help promote circulation without adding irritation beyond what has resulted from the race.


During the next phase of recovery it is pertinent not to push back into your routine too soon.  Cross training is great to consider.  Explore walking, pool running, biking, swimming, the elliptical machine or other cardio equipment to help with continued muscle recovery without the loading that may come with running.  


This is the phase to start back into regular running at a reduced level.  With the return phase consider not running multiple days in a row, continuing to cross train to aid with your recovery and injury prevention.  When you do run, keep your pace and distance down.  Consider walk/run combination workouts, alternating 5-10 minute efforts.  Look for softer surfaces to run on such as dirt, crushed limestone or outdoor tracks.


During this last phase of post race recovery the key point is to listen to your body.  Remember the intensity of your race and all the training you did in the months leading up to your event.  It may take you more time to feel ready to get back into a regular running schedule.  If you are still depleted mentally or physically, continue to be active by cross training and gradually building your mileage.

If you are dealing with an injury or pain lingering from your training or race, consider seeking medical attention.  Physical Therapists are experts in injury treatment and prevention and specialize in helping individuals with mobility issues, analyzing your problem and giving you solutions to get back to running.

Recover and Prevent

Whether you recover in a few days, weeks or months, the concepts of active rest, rebalance, return and rebuild hold true.  Listen to your body and do not push back too soon.  Enjoy mixing up your program and celebrate your accomplishments by treating your body well.