Celebrate National Physical Therapy month at our ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, October 10th from 5:00-7PM at Balance Physical Therapy Monterey | 2260 N. Freemont St., Monterey.
We’re often asked, “What makes you different?” and “What’s special about Balance Physical Therapy?” and “Why should I choose your practice?”
The answers to those questions is that we have a wide variety of specialty services that we offer that can’t be found anywhere else, but it also has to do with our core values. These values guide every decision we make, from how we treat our patients to how we interact with each other and create and maintain a fun, energetic environment that’s conducive to healing!
Our core values are STRONG — they are Balance S.T.RO.N.G., and are reflected in the following acronym:
Service to patients.
Readiness to learn.
Guidance to others.
Looking at everything through the lens of STRONG CORE VALUES helps the professionals at Balance Physical Therapy stay dedicated to being the most patient-focused, result-oriented rehabilitation facility in Monterey County. Through the application of highly skilled manual therapy, prescribed therapeutic exercise, and patient education, they form a team with their patients and are committed to returning them to an active lifestyle.
The physical therapists at Balance Physical Therapy® and Human Performance Center are tops in their field! As a well-educated group of physical therapy doctors, they are committed to constant improvement in the areas of their clinical expertise, exercise interventions, advanced rehabilitation techniques, and the latest in research and science.
To maintain the highest standards of professional excellence, they all frequently attend continuing education courses, serve as mentors and clinical instructors for graduate students, and speak on a variety of topics within the local community. The physical therapists at Balance understand that your physical ability affects every single part of your life. They are experts at optimizing human movement so they can help you maximize the human experience!
Although they use a variety of tools and techniques as well as highly advanced exercise equipment, the professionals at Balance have separated themselves from the pack by offering services that no other clinic can.
For example, their clinics offer the incredible Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmills to help speed up recovery. They also have highly trained and certified vestibular experts on their clinical team who can cure your vertigo and screen you for and treat a wide range of ailments that may be making you dizzy. Their Doctors of Physical Therapy have extensive experience and many specialist certifications that help ensure your manual therapy, or “hands-on” care is the best you can find. They also specialize is areas such as custom foot orthotics, lymphedema treatments and women’s health issues.
Manual medicine is as much an art as it is a science, and therapists at Balance can and do use combinations of stretching, traction, joint and soft mobilization, massage, manipulation (aka: adjustments), cupping, Graston techniques, and much more.
So, with a wide variety of specialty services, a dedicated, experienced and professional team of physical therapists, and especially our S.T.RO.N.G. core values, Balance Physical Therapy is different, special and unique and at the top of its game.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that supports and stabilizes the pelvis and spine, supports organs, aids in control of bladder and bowel functions, and helps with sexual functions.
There is a common misconception that only women can suffer from pelvic health issues, yet men may also experience pelvic floor dysfunction over time.
PUMPING UP THE PELVIC MUSCLES
Just as we work to strengthen other muscle groups, the pelvic floor responds well to targeted manual therapy and exercise, and any number of symptoms can be resolved.
Pelvic floor therapy offers both men and women many benefits; improving organ prolapse, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. Women benefit from PT before and after childbirth. Pelvic PT is also beneficial following surgeries including but not limited to hysterectomies, prostatectomies, c-sections.
BENEFICIAL EXERCISES FOR MEN AND WOMEN
1. Transverse Abdominis (TA) contraction
An important muscle in everyday function, and especially in regards to pelvic floor health. It is the binder that supports your abdominal organs.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent so that your feet are on the floor.
- Feel for bony prominences on the top of your hips. From this bony landmark go two finger widths towards your belly button and downwards.
- Gently pull your belly button towards your spine. You will feel a muscle slightly tighten under your fingers. This is a very small movement.
- Begin by holding for 2 seconds. Make sure you continue to breathe as you hold the contraction.
- Repeat 10 times.
- As this becomes easier, increase your hold time to 5 seconds, 7 seconds, then 10 seconds. Remember, do not hold your breath! This is a small contraction and it is possible to hold it and breathe at the same time.
While bridges primarily strengthen the buttocks, they also help work the pelvic floor. Follow these steps:
- Lie down on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Let your arms fall to the sides with palms facing downward.
- Squeeze the buttocks to lift the buttocks off the ground. Ideally you will lift your hips high enough to create a bridge, or a downwards slope from your knees to your head.
- Hold position for 3–8 seconds.
- Slowly lower your hips to the ground.
- Repeat up to 10 times.
- Rest, then perform up to 2 additional sets.
- If you feel back pain, tuck your pelvis (top of your hips go backwards) before lifting.
Along with the bridge, squats can promote a stronger pelvic floor and buttocks. Follow these steps:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, keeping them flat on the floor.
- Bend at the knees to bring the buttocks toward the floor, going only as low as is comfortable. Keep the back straight and bring your buttocks backwards as if you are about to sit on a chair.
- Focus on tightening the buttocks and pelvic floor while returning to a standing position.
- Repeat for a total of 10 repetitions.
- Rest before performing any additional sets.
Pelvic Floor Myth: Kegels
Almost everyone has heard that if you have a pelvic floor dysfunction/condition, or even if you don’t, that you should do kegels. WRONG!
Things to know:
- Incontinence and/or pelvic pain does NOT necessarily mean that you have a weak pelvic floor and you need to strengthen it.
- Incontinence and/or pelvic pain can also be a result of your pelvic floor muscles being too tight, or overactive.
- When you urinate or defecate, it is actually a relaxation of muscles, not a contraction.
Therefore if your pelvic floor isn’t strong enough, you may not be able to sustain the pressure of the urine and/or feces and this causes the leakage. Similarly, if your pelvic floor muscles are too tight, they cannot function at an optimal length; your body is unable to appropriately relax which also causes leakage!
- Furthermore, incontinence can be linked to behaviors! Do you immediately have to urinate/defecate when you pull into the driveway or unlock your door?
- The only way to know if your pelvic floor is too tight, weak, just right, or dysfunction is stemming from other factors such as behavior, diet, or poor biomechanics during activities, is to be evaluated by a pelvic floor physical therapist.
- If your pelvic floor is already working overtime, kegels will actually make the problem worse, not better.
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Health News from Harvard Medical School
Whether this is your first round of back pain or your fifth, it’s always important to check in with your doctor. There are many ways to deal with low back pain — and the choices range from waiting it out to surgery.
And before you can get an idea of which treatments to try, you’ll need to find out what is causing your pain. With your doctor’s guidance, you can develop a plan to ease your pain and try to make sure it doesn’t recur.
Although you may consult a number of experts (from physical therapists to neurologists) about your back pain, you are perhaps the most important person involved in your care. Be as informed as possible about the risks and benefits of any therapies you’re considering. Be very clear on your goals for treatment. Perhaps you don’t intend to hike up a mountain, but you do want to be able to comfortably do long walking tours on your next vacation.
And don’t be afraid to seek out a second or even third opinion, particularly when invasive, experimental, or very expensive treatments are on the table.
Just as there is no single cause of back pain, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Once you and your doctor have evaluated the medical issues, discussed treatment goals, and narrowed down the options, how you proceed will depend largely on your personal preferences.
Pain relief is the first priority for most people with back pain. But the long-term strategy that’s right for you will depend on what triggered the pain in the first place. For example, if your back pain is the result of an injury, you might work with a physical therapist to find ways to avoid a similar injury in the future.
If weak back and core muscles contributed to your back pain, you may want to start a regular exercise program to improve your fitness. If there is an anatomical problem — for example, a compressed disc — you might also need more intensive medical treatment.
Regardless of the source of your back pain, a combined approach — exercise or physical therapy, pain relief, lifestyle changes — usually yields the best outcome.
50-Seconds to a Stronger Back
If you want to reduce routine, muscle-related back pain flare ups ask your doctor about doing this exercise a few times each day. If it’s OK, give it a try. Simply lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Pull both knees toward your chest and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to the starting position. Do this 5 to 10 times.
To learn more about healing your aching back, and keeping back pain at bay, buy Back Pain: Finding solutions for your aching back, (link: https://www.health.harvard.edu/promotions/harvard-health-publications/back-pain-dec2017-test) a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Health News from Harvard Medical School
Many things can interfere with sleep, ranging from anxiety to an unusual work schedule. People who have difficulty sleeping often discover that their daily routine holds the key to nighttime woes.
Before we examine specific sleep problems, it makes sense to address some common enemies of sleep and tips for dealing with them.
Cut down on caffeine
Caffeine drinkers may find it difficult to fall asleep. Once they drift off, their sleep is shorter and lighter. For some people, a single cup of coffee in the morning means a sleepless night. That may be because caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter thought to promote sleep. Caffeine can also interrupt sleep by increasing the need to urinate.
People who suffer from insomnia should avoid caffeine as much as possible, since its effects can endure for many hours. Because caffeine withdrawal can cause headache, irritability, and extreme fatigue, some people find it easier to cut back gradually than to go cold turkey. Those who can’t or don’t want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2 p.m., or noon if they are especially caffeine-sensitive.
Stop smoking or chewing tobacco
Nicotine is a central nervous system stimulant that can cause insomnia. This potent drug makes it harder to fall asleep because it speeds your heart rate, raises blood pressure, and stimulates fast brain-wave activity that indicates wakefulness.
In people addicted to nicotine, a few hours without it is enough to induce withdrawal symptoms; the craving can even wake a smoker at night. People who kick the habit fall asleep more quickly and wake less often during the night. Sleep disturbance and daytime fatigue may occur during the initial withdrawal from nicotine, but even during this period, many former users report improvements in sleep.
If you continue to use tobacco, avoid smoking or chewing it for at least one to two hours before bedtime.
Use alcohol cautiously
Alcohol depresses the nervous system, so a nightcap can help some people fall asleep. However, the quality of this sleep is abnormal. Alcohol suppresses REM sleep, and its soporific effects disappear after a few hours. Drinkers have frequent awakenings and sometimes frightening dreams.
Alcohol may be responsible for up to 10% of chronic insomnia cases. Also, because alcohol relaxes throat muscles and interferes with brain control mechanisms, it can worsen snoring and other nocturnal breathing problems, sometimes to a dangerous extent.
Drinking during one of the body’s intrinsic sleepy times — midafternoon or night — will induce more sleepiness than imbibing at other times of day. Even one drink can make a sleep-deprived person drowsy. The combination of alcohol and sleepiness also significantly increases a person’s chance of getting into a car accident.
Be physically active
Regular aerobic exercise like walking, running, or swimming provides three important sleep benefits: you fall asleep faster, attain a higher percentage of deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.
Exercise seems to be of particular benefit to older people. In one study, physically fit older men fell asleep in less than half the time it took for sedentary men, and they woke up less often during the night.
Exercise is the only known way for healthy adults to boost the amount of deep sleep they get. Research shows that older men and women who report sleeping normally can still increase the amount of time they spend in deep sleep if they do some form of aerobic activity.
But try to avoid exercising within two hours of bedtime, because exercise is stimulating and can make it harder to fall asleep.
Stick to a regular schedule
A regular sleep schedule keeps the circadian sleep/wake cycle synchronized. People with the most regular sleep habits report the fewest problems with insomnia and the least depression. Experts advise getting up at about the same time every day, even after a late-night party or fitful sleep. Napping during the day can also make it harder to get to sleep at night.
Keeping a sleep diary may help you uncover some clues about what’s disturbing your sleep. If possible, you should do this for a month, but even a week’s worth of entries can be useful.
If your goal is to sleep longer at night, napping during the day is a bad idea. Because your daily sleep requirement remains constant, naps take away from evening sleep.
But if your goal is to improve your alertness during the day, a scheduled nap may be just the thing. Insomniacs who are anxious about getting enough sleep may also find that a scheduled nap improves the quality of their nighttime sleep by reducing anxiety.
If possible, nap shortly after lunch. People who snooze later in the afternoon tend to fall into a deeper sleep, which causes greater disruption at night. An ideal nap lasts no longer than an hour, and even a 15- to 20-minute nap has significant alertness benefits. Shorten or eliminate naps that produce lingering grogginess.
For more on the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and developing strategies to improve your sleep, buy Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night’s rest, (Link: https://www.health.harvard.edu/promotions/harvard-health-publications/improving-sleep-a-guide-to-a-good-nights-rest?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=focuson-sleep-1&utm_id=1327733&dlv-ga-memberid=74104858&mid=74104858&ml=1327733) a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
By Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Health News from Harvard Medical School
Many people consider addiction to be a problem of personal weakness, initiated for self-gratification and continued because of an unwillingness or lack of sufficient willpower to stop.
However, within the medical and scientific communities, the notion that pleasure-seeking exclusively drives addiction has fallen by the wayside. Clinicians and scientists alike now think that many people engage in potentially addictive activities to escape discomfort — both physical and emotional. People typically engage in psychoactive experiences to feel good and to feel better. The roots of addiction reside in activities associated with sensation seeking and
People allude to addiction in everyday conversation, casually referring to themselves as “chocolate addicts” or “workaholics.” However, addiction is not a term clinicians take lightly.
You might be surprised to learn that until the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), the term addiction did not appear in any version of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual,
the reference book that physicians and psychotherapists use to identify and classify mental health disorders. In this most recent edition, addiction is included as a category and contains both substance use disorders and non-substance use
disorders, such as alcohol use disorder and gambling disorder, respectively.
A revised view of addiction
It might seem strange to group gambling problems in the same category as a problem with drugs or alcohol. But addiction experts are beginning to move away from the notion that there are multiple addictions, each tied to a specific substance
Rather, the Syndrome Model of Addiction suggests that there is one addiction that is associated with multiple expressions. An object of addiction can be almost anything — a drug or drug-free activity. For addiction to develop, the drug or
activity must shift a person’s subjective experience in a desirable direction — feeling good or feeling better.
Several scientific advances have shaped our contemporary understanding of this common and complex problem. For example, brain-imaging technologies have revealed that our brains respond similarly to different pleasurable experiences, whether derived from ingesting psychoactive substances, such as alcohol and other drugs, or engaging in behaviors, such as gambling, shopping, and sex. Genetic research has revealed that some people are predisposed to addiction, but not to a specific
type of addiction.
These findings suggest that the object of addiction (that is, the specific substance or behavior) is less important than previously believed. Rather, the new thinking reflects the belief that addiction is functional: it serves while it
Addiction is a relationship between a person and an object or activity. With addiction, the object or activity becomes increasingly more important while previously important activities become less important. Ultimately, addiction is about
the complex struggle between acting on impulse and resisting that impulse. When this struggle is causing suffering related to health, family, work, and other activities of everyday life, addiction might be involved.
There are many routes for recovery, and the road may take time
Addiction is a chronic and often relapsing disorder. It is often preceded by other emotional problems. Nevertheless, people can and do recover from addiction, often on their own. If not on their own, people can recover with the help of
their social network or a treatment provider.
Usually, recovery from addiction requires many attempts. This can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness. Smoking is often considered one of the most difficult expressions of addiction to change. Yet, the vast majority of smokers
who stopped quit on their own! Others stopped smoking with the help of professional treatment.
It is important to remember that the process of overcoming an addiction often requires many attempts. Each attempt provides an important learning opportunity that changes experience and, despite the difficulties, moves recovering people
closer to their objectives. There are many pathways into addiction and many routes to recovery.
Think about recovery from addiction as a five-year process that will have its ups and downs; after about five years, life can and will be very different. As life becomes more worth living, addiction loses its influence.
For more information on addiction, go to www.expressionsofaddiction.com.
Health News from Harvard Medical School
Sit-ups once ruled as the way to get tighter abs and a slimmer waistline, while “planks” were merely flooring. Now planks — exercises in which you assume a position and hold it — are the gold standard for working your core, while classic sit-ups and crunches have fallen out of favor. Why the shift?
One reason is that sit-ups are hard on your back — they push your curved spine against the floor. Sit-ups also work your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. When hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine which can be a source of lower back discomfort.
Second, planks recruit a better balance of muscles on the front, sides, and back of the body during exercise than sit-ups, which target just a few muscles. Remember, your core goes far beyond your abdominal muscles.
Finally, activities of daily living, as well as sports and recreational activities, call on your muscles to work together, not in isolation. Sit-ups or crunches strengthen just a few muscle groups. Through dynamic patterns of movement, a good core workout helps strengthen the entire set of core muscles — the muscles you rely on for daily activities as well as for sports and recreational activities.
How Good is Your Balance? Try this test now.
Start by standing comfortably near the wall, holding your arms in any position you choose. Lift one foot an inch or two off the floor so that you are balancing on the other foot. Time how long you can do this before having to put the raised foot down or touch the wall for support.
If you can’t stand on one leg unassisted, lightly touch the wall or hold the back of a chair with one or both hands for support. Use less support as you improve your balance.
If you can hold this single leg stance for 60 seconds or more, you have excellent balance. If you can’t hold it for more than 10 seconds, you could be at risk for a fall. If so, get a copy of Core Exercises and ask your doctor or physical therapist for more ways you can improve your balance and prevent falls.
For more on the benefits of strengthening your core, buy Core Exercises, (link: https://www.health.harvard.edu/promotions/harvard-health-publications/core-exercises-5-workouts-to-tighten-your-abs-strengthen-your-back-and-improve-balance?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=focuson-fitness-1&utm_id=1327724&dlv-ga-memberid=74104858&mid=74104858&ml=1327724), a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Nutrition 101: Good eating for good health
Health News from Harvard Medical School
Turn on your TV, open a newspaper, or boot up your computer and you’re bound to get some confusing news about diet and health. Don’t let it drive you to distraction — or to the donut shop. Instead, remember four key facts:
- What you eat affects your appearance, your energy and comfort, and — above all — your health.
- America is on the wrong track. Two out of every three of us are overweight or obese. Diabetes and high blood pressure are on the rise. Heart attacks, strokes, and cancer are distressingly common. Many factors contribute to these complex problems, but the basic reasons are simple: we eat too much, we choose the wrong foods, and we don’t get enough exercise.
- Scientists know what diet is best for health (see below). The fine print has changed and is likely to change some more, but the key facts are in.
- Good eating is not a punishment, but an opportunity. If you know why it’s important and what to do, you’ll find it enjoyable and satisfying. And if you establish an overall pattern of healthful nutrition, you’ll have plenty of wiggle room to savor the treats that matter most to you.
Here are five tips to create a healthful diet that you can enjoy.
- Learn to think about food in a new way. Years ago, meat and potatoes were the American ideal. Now we know that vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and fish are best.
- Experiment with new recipes and meal plans. Be creative and take chances. Instead of dreading your new diet, have fun with it.
- Change slowly. By the time you are 40, you’ll have eaten some 40,000 meals — and lots of snacks besides. Give yourself time to change, targeting one item a week.
Start with breakfast, switching from eggs, bacon, donuts, white toast, or bagels to oatmeal or bran cereal and fruit. If you just can’t spare 10 minutes for a sit-down breakfast, grab high-fiber cereal bars instead of donuts or muffins.
Next, try out salads, low-fat yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese, tuna or peanut butter sandwiches, and fruit for lunch.
Snack on unsalted nuts, trail mix, fruit, raw veggies, Rye Krisp, or graham crackers. Try eating a few handfuls of a crunchy fiber cereal such as Kashi, or nibble on a cereal bar.
For dinner, experiment with fish, skinless poultry, beans, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and, of course, salads and veggies.
Fruit and low-fat frozen desserts are examples of desirable after-dinner treats. And there’s nothing wrong with the occasional cake, pie, or chocolates as long as the portions are moderate.
- Be relaxed about your diet. You will never find a perfect food. Not everything on your plate needs to have a higher purpose. Take your tastes and preferences into account. If roast beef is your favorite food, it is OK to eat it — but try to make it a Sunday treat instead of a daily staple. The choices are your — and the better your overall diet, the more “wiggle room” you’ll have to indulge your passions.
- Take a long-range view. Don’t get down on yourself if you slip up or “cheat” from time to time. Don’t worry about every meal, much less every mouthful. Your nutritional peaks and valleys will balance out if your overall dietary pattern is sound.
For most people, TLC stands for tender loving care. For doctors, it stands for the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet. The TLC diet provides sound goals for most Americans.
- Total calories: Adjusted in conjunction with exercise to attain or maintain a healthy body weight. (Your doctor or a nutritionist can help you figure out how many calories you, personally, should be taking in.)
- Total fat: 25% – 35% of total calories
- Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total calories
- Polyunsaturated fat: Up to 10% of total calories
- Monounsaturated fat: Up to 20% of total calories
- Cholesterol: Less than 200 mg a day
- Protein: About 15% of total calories
- Fiber: The Institute of Medicine recommends:
- Men 50 years and younger get 38 grams per day
- Women 50 and younger get 25 grams per day
- Men over 50 get 30 grams per day
- Women over 50 get 21 grams per day
Visit our website at https://www.health.harvard.edu to find reports of interest to you and your family.