Most of us over-work our bodies from a place of bad alignment, rarely feeling the real amount of work we do in our everyday activities and our exercise programs. Instead of becoming stronger and more powerful, the tendency is to strengthen our current patterns of dysfunction. As a result, injury and chronic pain often occur. Therefore, it is important to increase our awareness so that the changes we are making in our movement patterns become lasting.
My treatment approach is unique. In my 41 years of experience as a Sportsmedicine Physical Therapist and Posture/Movement specialist, I have found that by utilizing the following four assessment approaches, I can design the most effective individualized, comprehensive treatment program for my clients.
These programs create immediate changes and lasting results.
- Functional Assessment is the first step. I always spend 1 ½ hours with my patients on their first visit. I look at the body as a whole. I thoroughly evaluate my client’s body movement and pain patterns with a combination of visual, verbal, muscular and myofascial assessment. I look at the way you stand, walk and sit and determine how these movement patterns affect your pain and dysfunction. In the first session, I will teach you how to change these patterns. You will have a new skill that you can use as soon as you walk out of my office.
- Myofascial and Muscular Assessment. After looking at the body’s movement patterns, I do muscle palpations to assess how the body’s tightness and holding patterns directly correspond to the dysfunctional movement and pain patterns. When I do body work with my patient, it is specific bodywork to release their structural holding patterns. The problem is: if you have body work or adjustments done and then move the exact same way, your body will often go back to where it was before. Because I am teaching patients to move more accurately, they can integrate and maintain the changes that occur with the body work they receive. I also instruct patients how to do release techniques themselves, so they can maintain the soft tissue release.
- Exercise and Fitness Assessment. I provide my clients with a vast array of techniques for toning, breathing, stretching and strengthening that they can do at home or in the gym. I teach them how to initiate movement by using gravity rather than compression and how to problem solve for themselves to prevent pain and injury before it happens. They also learn how to immediately apply what they gain from their exercise programs into their everyday activities.
Some of the many skills my clients take home with them are how to find neutral in their bodies; and how to sit, stand and walk while maintaining their core alignment.
I tell my clients, it is great that you do a specific exercise or stretch, but if you have no way to maintain it, the exercise or stretch is much less effective. For example, a common problem is shortness of the hamstring muscle. Many patients complain that they stretch their hamstring muscles all the time, but it seems to stay tight. I point out that if you stretch your hamstring for 45 seconds and then sit and stand with it in shortness for the next 2 days, the stretch is much less effective. When you stretch, if know how to sit and stand with the hamstring in length, then you can maintain the benefit of the stretch.
- Ergonomic Assessment. It is very difficult to maintain postural alignment and have your core engaged if you are sitting on chairs that don’t support you or if your computer is set up is badly and you don’t know how to change the set up. I assess my clients home and work areas to create a supportive environment that is less conducive to stress and injury and more conducive to productivity, health and fitness. I recommend specific changes in their computer set up, home environments, car seats, and even their shoes and exercise equipment. I recommend highly effective, low cost ergonomic products as part of the ergonomic assessment.
The comments that my clients say over and over again in the first session is, “This makes so much sense” and “Why didn’t anyone teach me this before.” They say this because I educate them about how the body works. I always show them drawings of the body and the muscles and soft tissue that is causing the pain. Once they understand what it is that is causing the pain and how the changes can occur, they are empowered to make and maintain these changes for a lifetime.