Posture

Here at North Jersey Physical Therapy, we believe that one of the root causes of muscle, nerve, and fascial pain is directly related to posture. Gravity is constantly pushing down on us and stressing our bodies in ways we are not always aware of it doing. Therefore, we have to be proactive against gravity. We have to realize that when we sit or stand we should be active, not passive. This is where good posture comes in. We must focus on certain muscle groups to align our spine in order to achieve posture alignment with the least amount of effort.

Correcting posture is not only possible but simple. With a little effort it can be practiced throughout the day and yield dramatic results. In fact the more you practice correct posture the simpler it becomes.

Our belief in the critical nature of good posture is so great that one of our therapists, Polixeni Katsaros, PT, DPT wrote a book on it called, “Posture, Simply Posture, Correct Simply” where she outlines the importance of understanding how gravity affects our body and the importance of understanding how posture and proper body alignment can counteract the effects of gravity.

WALK of LIFE

Bipedal walking is an important characteristic of humans. Gait is the manner, pattern or style of walking. The entire body moves during walking. A faulty movement or pattern in any segment of the body can have an effect on the gait pattern. The gait cycle is composed of the stance phase (60% of gait) when the foot is in contact with the ground from the heel strike to the toe-off of the same foot, and the swing phase (40% of gait) when the foot is not in contact with the ground, which is the normal weight bearing phase of gait. Proper body movement and timing are essential to normal gait. Physical Therapists are looking at symmetry of arm swings, stride length, weight shifting of hips, movement of the trunk and foot alignment, as well as other areas to fully assess the cause of a patient’s dysfunction.

Some of the abnormalities seen at the clinic which affect how a person walks are:

  • Forward flexed trunk position due to decreased spine mobility (spinal stenosis).
  • Trendelenburg gait due to weakness of hip abductor muscles causing the hip to drop towards the same side of the leg swinging forward.
  • Hip extensor weakness causes patient to compensate with an increased posterior trunk position to maintain alignment of pelvis in relation to trunk.
  • Quadriceps weakness or instability at the knee joint will cause the person to hyperextend the knee for stability.
  • Tight calf muscles will result in a compensated gait of toe walking.
  • Hallux rigidus results is a lack of big toe dorsiflexion, which will affect the gait pattern.
  • Leg length discrepancy can be a result of a pelvic asymmetry, or an uneven bone length of the tibia/shin or femur/thigh. This will cause an asymmetrical gait pattern of a pelvic dip or toe walk.
  • Get your groove back at NJPTA by letting us assess your gait.

Ice or Heat

Should you use ice or heat? If you find yourself asking this question, read on! As a general rule, ice is best for acute injuries, and heat is good for muscular tightness/pain. Ice will slow down the blood flow to an area and as a result, decrease swelling, while at the same time decreasing pain. Ice is good for acute injuries, migraine headaches, impact injuries, sprains and strains, and after performing activity that might exacerbate a chronic condition. Heat helps to bring blood flow to an area, and therefore if used on an acute injury, would cause an increase in swelling. This is why we would never recommend the use of heat on an acute injury. Use heat to loosen a tight or stiff, muscle or joint. It can also be used before an activity to loosen the desired area, priming it for movement. Be sure to put a thin layer of towel or pillow case between your skin and the ice or heat pack to prevent burns. Check the skin throughout the application about every 5 minutes during your 15-20 minutes application.

CHRONIC PAIN Neck Pain, Back Pain, Leg Pain ROOT CAUSE – HOPE & HEALING

Pain is complicated, multi-system and elusive. We in the medical and dental professions are understanding the pain science in unprecedented ways. Pain is multi-system involving the brain and changes in the brain when pain is chronic (over 3 months). Pain involves the immune system to facilitate healing in chronic, acute and sub-acute conditions, and in all cases involves soft tissue. Healing chronic pain involves different treatment strategies than acute pain.

Pain is a symptom. We at NJPTA understand pain and movement science. People in pain do not move like people without pain, and we understand how to assess and how to address not only the source of the pain, but the root cause of the pain. For example, in a potential lower back pain / leg pain condition the MRI shows you have a L45 herniated disc as the source of the pain, but the ROOT cause of the pain is gravity and how you hold your spine to cause the disc to herniate. We also understand how the body heals and how the body adapts in order to function. This adaptation is invisible and unperceptive (cannot be felt) until a threshold or tipping point is reached and then pain ensues. Studies show 70% of people have herniated or bulging discs, but do not have any symptoms. The threshold / tipping point for acute injury / back pain from an activity that occurred last week is very different than back pain ongoing for 3 years that suddenly got aggravated last week. A pre-existing back pain history requires different treatment strategies than one time acute injury. Our expertise is the knowledge and applying the correct treatment tools in our toolbox to give you the knowledge and ability for your body to completely and permanently resolve your pain.

Buteyko Breathing

North Jersey PT sponsored Patrick McKeown to come train North Jersey Physical Therapy therapists in the Buteyko Breathing Method.

The method is aimed at reducing breathing to promote our bodies to be in a state of relaxation and equilibrium, and break the cycle of sympathetic overdrive or being in a state of constant “fight or flight.”  It was created by a Russian physician, Dr. Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko, around 1952.

Because our systems are stuck “on,” many of us have the tendency to breathe too much (clinically known as chronic hyperventilation), which alters the level of the gases in the blood and leads to numerous problems.  Some signs of dysfunctional breathing include mouth breathing, hearing breathing during rest, excessive sighing, frequent yawning, regular sniffling, and taking deep breaths before talking. Things that can lead to dysfunctional breathing include over eating, lack of exercise, excessive talking, stress, high temperature in the home, and asthma.

Through a series of breathing exercises we are able to reset the respiratory centers in the brain and restore the normal balance to the system and allow the body to be in a parasympathetic state, or a state or relaxation and equilibrium. Through the Buteyko Breathing Method we are able to help patients change their pain levels and use it in conjunction with other treatment methods and modalities to address headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, low back pain, pain from fibromyalgia, as well as other forms of soft tissue pains.

Call to schedule an appointment with a North Jersey Physical Therapy therapist today to see how we can help you decrease your pain and improve your quality of life.