Conditions

Physical Therapy for Runners: Tuning the Ankles for Lighter Running

Do you want to feel lighter and more free when you run? Then you need to ask yourself, do you know where the front of your ankle joint is? Find the tibiotalar joint labeled ankle in the picture below. This is the front of your ankle. Notice how in the picture on the right, the soft tissue that covers that area is being displayed. All those tendons are what you see pop off your foot and ankle when you bring your toes and foot towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

If you want to be able to run lighter, you need to be able to feel softness in this area and learn how to release the muscles and tendons along the front of the ankle joint when you walk and run.

Take a look at the trailing leg of each of the elite runners above. They are each about to start swinging their back leg forward by flexing the knee and hip. At this moment, you can see how the first thing they have to release before swinging the leg forward, is the front of their right ankle. They have moved into a more pointed foot position not by pushing with their toes into the ground but by releasing the front of the ankle.

Continue reading

Best Breathing Method for Health

Buteyko Breathing Method

The goal of this breathing method is to affect not only the muscles in the body, but also the physiology of the body. While this breathing technique will produce relaxation and energy, it is important to remember that the fundamental concept is to limit your breath. If you would like to understand more about the physiology of this technique, you can start here: http://www.buteyko.co.uk/.

While it is best to do focused sessions of 15-20 minutes to help recalibrate your natural breathing rhythm, we find that any amount of this breath work will begin to improve your overall health.

How to Perform the Exercises:

All breathing should be done through the nose with mouth closed at all times. The mouth is for eating and the nose is for breathing. Focus on taking the smallest and most silent breath possible. Ultimately your breathing should be unnoticeable.

1. Begin by gently exhaling with little to no force. Don’t try to squeeze any air out, just let yourself deflate. If you exhale too far, you will feel your abdominal muscles contract to push extra air out, this is too much effort. Only release the air until you reach a natural resting state

Continue reading

Managing Pain and Function Following Joint Replacement Surgery

knee-scar

More than 1 million patients undergo total knee or hip replacement surgeries each year in the US and numbers continue to climb. The trend might be easily explained by an increasing number of elderly people, but reports are showing that there is a growing trend for younger patients to opt for surgery.

No matter how old you are when you go for surgery, one thing is certain: you will feel pain.

For most patients this is not a new sensation. The majority of patients seek joint replacement surgery because they have been living with pain for extended periods of time. It is easy to think that surgery is a quick fix and in some ways it is. The new joint is ready to function immediately and many patients are beginning their physical therapy rehabilitation on the same day as their surgery. But what most people do not expect is how much recovery it will take to overcome the damage caused by the surgery.

The nature of joint replacement surgery involves deep penetration into the body that requires tissue cutting, splinting, stretching, stapling, nerve severing, and bone scraping/removal to name a few. Having a clear understanding of what you are getting into, and how much pain to expect following the surgery, will help you recover quicker and help you manage post-operative pain more effectively.

Continue reading

Holistic Mind Body Treatment: Relieving Head, Knee and Hip Pain

My aches and pains have been steadily diminishing since seeing Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD for the first time but they hadn’t vanished completely – yet. Only because it’s been a long and winding road of minor injuries over the decades. This being my tenth visit, I didn’t know what to expect since there are a variety of problem areas in my small frame. Tatz, usually a man of little words, surprised me when he sat down and spoke at length before my treatment began. He was insistent that I understand, “People don’t always want to hear what their real problem is.” I was a little worried he had something unpleasant to tell me about my own health, but I listened.

First he told me that sometimes people have psychological problems and not physical problems. “I always tells my patients the truth but sometimes they get upset with me.” Very recently, he told one of his patients that she might want to consider talking to a professional about her emotional problems; she left in tears. He explained in cases of the mind, doctors such as bestselling author Dr. John Sarno are very good at helping people understand that they can heal themselves by addressing underlying emotional issues. He also noted that can only happen if there is not an underlying physical problem. He was very concerned about this patient of his.

Continue reading

Headache Follow Up Treatment on Neck and Jaw

I arrived a bit early for my eighth visit with Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD. His waiting room is a constant, relaxing oasis. There are three red velvet orchestra seats to choose from, numbered 13, 15 & 17. Or, there’s also a comfortable piano bench to sit on. Prominently placed in the waiting area is a beautiful bronze sculpture of healing hands. His two assistants are always kind, smart and soft-spoken. I’d had success with Tatz’ previous treatment, in essence with all his treatments, but last time Tatz had made a leap with my headaches. The head pain had disappeared for a few days and it hadn’t come back in its usual way. This time, my head was sore versus piercing.

Tatz whisked me into one of his private rooms, had me lie face up, and immediately placed cold laser therapy instruments on both sides of my neck and disappeared for at least twenty minutes or so. I’d become accustomed to the cold laser treatments from Tatz. From my understanding, the cold laser was first developed in Europe: A noninvasive form of light amplification. On this particular treatment I fell fast asleep.

Continue reading

Physical Therapy for Severe Headaches

headache

When I went in for my seventh visit with Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD, I was in pretty bad shape. Without exaggeration I was coming out of a three-day migraine, had been unable to keep food or water down, plus had heart palpitations on the right side of my chest which sent me into my local MD’s office – although the EKG checked out fine. During these dark hours of what I call a level nine headache, where communing with the outside world is not an option, I obsessed on what to do about these headaches and migraines that have high jacked my life. I was considering surgery as a possibility, for a previously diagnosed hiatal hernia, since some experts say that the GI tract can cause all sorts of headaches, dizziness and palpitations. For the record, my MD was not recommending it, more like I was desperate.

Tatz was, as ever, attentive and went straight to the problem that day: My head. He asked me to lie in the most comfortable position, in which I chose to be face up. His hands gravitated first to the crown of my head, in particular the top of my forehead. His fingers lightly massaged these areas as well as my temples. Then with the grip of his two hands he cradled the left and right side of my brain: the two hemispheres. He held them and massaged them in opposite directions. After awhile, he moved back to the temples, touching more firmly, then the neck and below the neck. Probing, and shaking and attempting to liberate the pent up tension. Then his touch become stronger across the surface of my entire head, especially the right jaw. Then he asked that I open, close and contort my jaw in constant motions while simultaneously his technique became more intense across all these areas of head and neck.

Continue reading

Stomach Treatment with Diapulse

garden-flowers

Blooming tulips in the garden outside the studio.

On my third visit with Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD he asked where was I experiencing the most pain. Quite frankly, even though I felt I had made progress, I couldn’t assess myself between the intermittent pain in my head or my knee, or the things I hadn’t told him about yet. So I asked him, would he please evaluate and decide what would be the priority for the day.

He first conducted more delicate work on my head, incredibly mild. He touched most areas of my forehead, jaw and entire skull. He put his hands above my head and seemed to ‘brush’ the energy away from my head. It was super-relaxing. Then he focused his hands on my left knee, moving it to and fro, in all directions, more of a medium touch. He told me to keep both knees moving, gently, through each day. Then, while working on my knee, he started exploring my stomach and abdomen, probing, pressing, and adjusting. Digging deeply with his hands. He did all this without words.

I was amazed that he was exploring my organs because I hadn’t yet told him about the diagnosis I had earlier in the year. In the medical community’s exploration into my headaches I was referred to a gastroenterologist who performed an endoscopy. The result: Mild hiatal hernia, mild gastritis, and mild acid reflux. Acid reflux in some medical circles is also called The Great Imitator: The acid reflux can take on other symptoms such as headaches, heartaches, asthma etc. Thereafter I tried two forms of medication. First Omeprazole: I immediately experienced severe side effects, chills flu heart, deep migraine etc. Then tried taking a half a dose. Still the same side effects. Then came another medication, Sucralfate. Also caused minor side effects. Simultaneously in my research, I learned from some professionals that these medications are just blockers to the problem, like putting masking tape on to keep everything together. These meds were never going to be curative. Plus my stomach was bloated, not from overeating, but something to do with my GI tract. I hadn’t figured it out, nor had anyone else.

Continue reading

Body Tuning for Intermittent Migraines with an Additional Knee Treatment

migraine

I felt bad the second time I saw Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD because while I had initially gone to see him about my knee, what was plaguing me the most was the pounding headache I’d been having for four days solid. Well, I hadn’t even told him on his initial consultation that I’d had unsolvable undiagnosable daily headaches for over two years, not to mention intermittent migraines ten years preceding that. Sure I’d seen several medical doctors including a neurologist and many other practitioners. My greatest most painful attempt to end the headaches was the hugely scary six-injections-at-once of nerve block treatments, in which my head was painfully sore for a month. The second most alarming treatment was a blood pressure medicine ‘sometimes used for migraines.’ This put me into the Emergency Room after three doses. That said, most of the specialists were talented and kind, but no one, no treatment, thus far had solved the problems inside my head. Least of all me.

In any case, I confessed my headache sorrows to Tatz who immediately began to work on my head. Always gently. First, with his hands assessing and probing where my stress was being held: Primarily in the back of my skull where I once had a childhood cyst removed. Then he placed his left hand over my heart, while gently pulsing with his right hand across the sensitive parts of my head – which was just about everywhere that particular day. He then asked me to try opening and closing my mouth, mild cranial exercises while he continued the rest of the treatment: He put hands-on pressure on my legs – and later explained the pain in my legs was connected to my head and that a person’s entire physical body is all inter-connected. There are no separate parts! All this being his ‘body-tuning’ technique that he developed over the last fifty years. He told me to keep moving my jaw up and down gently while teaching me mild facial stretches, including scrunching up my nose. After he spent more time and intensive work on my head, neck and skull, I was already feeling better.

Continue reading

Knee Treatment: Torn Meniscus and Loss of Cartilage

knee-treatment

Before heading to see Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD about my knee, I’d heard from more than one doctor the WHAT NOT TO DO LIST: No stairs, no kneeling, no crossing legs, no sitting on floor, no squatting, no dancing. Plus I had a hard time wrapping my head around my previous physical therapist experiences: lots of clipboards and sessions with different PT’s each time and no results other than frustration. Still left with an imperfect knee that had suffered a few life-injuries. First there was the fall resulting in the tibial plateau fracture, then the torn meniscus, then the basic wear and tear, and loss of cartilage. The messages I was receiving from the medical community was to accept my ‘trick knee’.

That said, I wasn’t willing to give up and started asking friends and searching online for a specialist in physical therapy. One that might take insurance was another issue as I was on a pretty tight budget. After calling at least twenty PT offices, I reached Dr. Tatz’ office whose lovely assistant ushered me in immediately.

Tatz, the NYC acclaimed gray-haired PT, wasn’t much for words. He was more interested in what my entire body was saying to him and his reactions to my body versus vocabulary. His navigations seemed to be intuitive rather than straight out of a medical journal. He ‘tuned’ my body from the jaw down, gentle manipulations that made me feel thankful for the solid hour away from the pressures of NYC. Sometimes when seeing practitioners, I worry about what’s going on outside of the room rather than relaxing and healing inside.

Continue reading

Steps to Treating Back Pain

back-pain-treatment

The first step is to have some form of cold/ice compress ready for your back. You can take a wet towel and place it in the freezer for an hour, or take ice and wrap it in a towel or use an ice pack.

The next step is to find a comfortable lying position for your back and spine. You can either lie directly on your back with your feet planted and your legs bent or your legs straight out in front of you. Another option is to lie on your less sensitive and painful side with a pillow for under your head and another pillow in between the knees. In this position you need to make sure your knees are close to your chest in order to have flection in the spine. A third option is to lie flat on your stomach and make a pillow for your head with your forearms and elbows and rest your forehead.

Once you have found a comfortable position for you, take your form of cold compress and place it on the sensitive/painful part of the spine. You should remain in pose and focus on breathing. The idea is to bring breath and air to the sensitive part of the spine and allow gravity to take over. Remain here for 15-20min.

Continue reading