Manual Therapy, also referred to as hands-on therapy, is one of the most powerful tools that a physical therapist has at their disposal. Manual therapy can relax or activate muscles and assist in restoring mobility to joints, muscles and the nervous system, and it can assist in restoring efficient movement patterns. One of the primary benefits of being a Progress PT patient is that every one hour session includes extensive manual therapy. Lori has sought training from some of the world’s most innovative and accomplished physical therapists, and combines the best of what she has learned from these teachers to provide a uniquely skilled approach to bring relief via manual therapy. Here are links to more information about the methods Lori integrates into her treatment regimens: Integrated Systems Model Approach, ConnectTherapy™, the Thoracic Ring Approach™, and Functional Manual Therapy.
Over time, many people develop inefficient or compensatory movement patterns that may ultimately lead to pain, arthritis, tendonitis, sprains and other pathology. Maybe you slipped going down the stairs, landing on your buttocks, and simply thought you bruised your tailbone, but didn’t realize that your pelvis, lumbar spine, rib cage and all the way up into your neck and cranium was impacted. Years later you are complaining of hip or back pain but don’t associate this pain with the fall. Maybe you experienced a fall on an outstretched arm and injured your wrist but didn’t realize the impact this fall had on your shoulder, neck and upper rib cage. Falls like this can cause misalignment of the body from head to toe that ultimately lead to the development of compensatory and inefficient movement patterns throughout the kinetic chain, and these compensatory movement patterns can cause a cascade of issues throughout your body.
Whatever your issue might be, recent research has shown that instead of just strengthening individual muscles, it is critical to consider how your muscles are working together when you move—this is called neuromuscular control. By closely examining how you move in your body, Lori can identify issues related to motor and neuromuscular control that contribute to what is driving the dysfunction/pain you are experiencing in your body. Lori can help you achieve more optimal and efficient movement by integrating mental awareness with exercise/functional movement retraining once she establishes more optimal alignment through manual therapy techniques. The upside of all of this is that we are also creating more options for you to move in your body rather than being stuck in a single or rigid movement pattern that causes you pain. Lori will then help you to strengthen these new patterns by progressively advancing the difficulty of your exercise program and adding new planes of movement. Keep in mind that when you participate in an activity that you are not accustomed to, your body may react adversely because it hasn’t been trained how to move or adapt to the demands of this new activity. Don’t be discouraged as we will develop exercises that help you “reset” your body when you experience flare ups. Patients find that having these exercises to fall back on when setbacks occur is a powerful tool that can help provide relief of symptoms and prevent them from sliding back into their old, non-optimal movement patterns.
In addition to recommending restorative exercises, Lori may also recommend the use of an arch support (over the counter or custom) as a way to improve structural/functional alignment in your body to enhance movement and decrease your pain. Many patients have been able to reduce or eliminate pain in their feet, ankles, knees, hips, lower back, thorax or neck with the help of either custom orthotics or over-the-counter orthotics that Lori has customized. Lori will also recommend what type of shoe will best serve to support proper alignment and movement. Lori does not use a computer system to create orthotics because current systems cannot match the experience of a trained professional who understands that the foot is a complex mechanical structure made up of 33 joints, 26 bones, and hundreds of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Computer systems focus on two dimensional images and analysis, so they cannot do justice to our three dimensional feet.
Dry Needling is a technique that utilizes the placement of acupuncture needles into tight muscle bands. It is called dry because no drugs are injected in the process. Lori uses this technique in conjunction with manual therapy and movement retraining to help correct posture, restore proper alignment, and correct problematic movement patterns. Dry needling can improve the effectiveness of these other therapies because it causes a reflex relaxation of the tight muscle bands, facilitates healing of injured tissue, and helps to restore normal nerve function. Dry needling is especially effective in facilitating healing when there are tight muscle bands in the pelvis, foot, shoulder blade, and/or humerus.
The internal organs of the body, also known as the viscera, are connected to each other and the body’s musculoskeletal system via a web of connective tissue, which is known as fascia. Without full mobility of the viscera, a body cannot function and move as it is supposed to. Tension can form in any part of the fascia due to injury, surgery, poor diet, disease, and even emotional trauma. This tension impedes the normal function of the body and therefore creates dysfunction. The only way to find these areas of tension is through manual therapy. Dr. von Alten has taken extensive coursework through The Barrel Institute to diagnose and release these tensions with gentle manual therapy. Imbalances that can occur due to tension in the fascia can impede function in many systems of the body, including musculoskeletal, urogenital, eliminatory, nervous, respiratory, digestive, lymphatic, vascular, and neuroendocrine.