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.

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.

Pain and Injury from Improper Breathing

By John Vicchio, PT, CCTT

Breathing is unquestionably a key function of the human body. It sustains life by providing oxygen needed for metabolism and removing the by-product of these reactions, carbon dioxide. Breathing has other functions that affect motor control, postural stability and roles in maintaining homeostasis function (maintain internal stability such as balance and equilibrium) in the autonomic nervous system and circulatory system. When breathing becomes dysfunctional it affects people’s lives, challenging homeostasis, creating symptoms that most patients do not associate with their pain and compromising health.

The primary muscles of breathing are the diaphragm, intercostals (muscles running between the ribs) and abdominals, which allow the average person to take over 21,000 breaths per day. These muscles are located in the chest wall compromised of the rib cage/thorax and the abdomen, creating an effective respiratory pump. The respiratory pump can become dysfunctional due to many factors, which are altered and paradoxical motion between rib cage and abdomen called paradoxical breathing, thus increasing use of upper body muscles such as the scalenes, upper trapezius and sternocleidomastoids. Abdominal weakness and rib cage stiffness are common dysfunctions that we see at North Jersey Physical Therapy Associates (NJPTA).

At our clinic we evaluate and treat on how breathing affects postural stability and motor control. Muscles such as the diaphragm, transverse abdominals and pelvic floor muscles are important for motor control and postural support as well as for breathing. If their function is compromised there is an increased susceptibility to low back pain and injury.

At NJPTA, we take a unique approach in treatment, which includes an extensive assessment and treatment using manual therapy interventions, neuromuscular exercises (90/90 Diaphragm breathing, Buteyko breathing) and dry needling. These are all helpful tools in restoring and maintaining motor control/postural stability.

Below is an illustration of optimal breathing from Integrative Core Dynamics:

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The Auto Pilot Brain; Muscle and Movement Control: Answers to Chronic Soft Tissue Pain and Understanding Dry Needling of Trigger Points

By Carol Cote, PT, CCTT, CODN, CMTPT

In the general medical population we make the mistake that muscles are under 100% voluntary control. This is partially true, however, the majority of our muscles are more automatic (i.e. autonomic nervous system) than voluntary (somatic nervous system). Our muscles are controlled by 2 nervous systems. The somatic nervous system is our voluntary nervous system. When we bend our elbow and move our bodies voluntarily that is done through the somatic nervous system via our motor cortex.

Our second auto pilot nervous system is our autonomic nervous system which is more about bodily functions that help us survive (heart beat, body temperature, blood pressure, digestion, etc). Muscles are innervated by both nervous systems. For example, breathing. We have voluntary control with our breath but breathing is more automatic than voluntary. Muscles of our spine, shoulder blades and pelvis are more autonomic than voluntary. Autonomic muscle control has to do with how we hold our body against gravity. Our brain is blind to gravity, reflexes (such as balance) and habits (motor activation patterns ­
and muscle memory). Holding our head up and balancing is automatic very much like breathing. When it comes to neck and back pain and muscles this problem is an involuntary muscle problem.

Dry needling works to change our autonomic motor control affecting our auto pilot muscle activation pattern by releasing the trigger points (involuntary muscle contractures) that exist in chronic soft tissue pain. Dry needling works faster than traditional manual therapy like massage and even joint manipulations, treatment strategy needs to address the right level of where the problem is. Dry needling works at the three levels of how our bodies process pain:

1. Peripheral (skin, muscle, bones, joints)
2. Spinal (spinal cord, nerve roots) and
3. Brain (motor and sensory cortex along with our thinking/decision making and emotional brain).

Dry needling is a key treatment strategy which works at all levels (voluntary and involuntary) all at once and allows for permanent sustained change.

Dry Needling Clinical Effectiveness/Results At North Jersey Physical Therapy Associates

By Carol Cote, PT, CCTT, CODN, CMTPT

Dry needling of trigger points has unprecedented results in patient care treatment protocols when addressing orthopedic, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular and chronic pain conditions. We at North Jersey Physical Therapy have fully integrated dry needling of myofascial trigger points as part of our rehabilitation treatment protocols that include manual myofascial release, neuromuscular rehabilitation and exercise. Some observations/results with dry needling are unattainable via traditional physical therapy.

Dry needling releases the muscles’ contractures (trigger points) in both muscles and myofascial bands in soft tissue pain while facilitating a more balanced muscle activation pattern. We believe dry needling when combined with manual myofascial release and active release treatment strategies creates a change in the motor cortex, cerebellum and sensory cortex. Dry needling facilitates a change in muscle tone, muscle memory and activation patterns while relieving muscle pain. There is frequently sustained pain relief and perceived lightness/proprioception to the movement.

The human brain learns movement by doing and feeling which becomes habit which then becomes more hard wired. For example, riding a bike is an example of a muscle memory habit. We don’t have to think about how to ride a bike once we’ve learned it (body felt learning). If however, our habits over work key muscles and tendons during our grip, elbow and wrist, tendonitis of the elbow develops as a result when wear and tear exceeds repair. Dry needling the muscles and fascial bands allows immediate release of painful trigger points while also creating an inhibitive influence not to over contract those
muscles that habitually (through muscle memory) get overused. The human brain is
linked to habit and we are unaware of this process.