Pilates: Variations in Footwork

By Denise Vidal

In one of my first blogs, I wrote about the importance of calf muscle tone.  By stretching and strengthening the calf muscles, we not only increase the blood flow throughout the entire leg, we also allow for better ankle mobility. Healthy ankle mobility, as well proper hip joint movement, is essential for efficient posture and gait. Therefore, we are going to build on last week’s footwork blog to include an ankle movement, similar to how you would push off the floor when walking.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and put your hands on your hips.  Inhale and sit back into a squat position, feeling your sits bones widen and your thigh bones roll back in the sockets. As you slowly exhale, feel your sits bones narrow and your thigh bones roll forward in the socket to stand back up. While standing, imagine your lower leg, upper leg, and pelvis stacking on top of your ankle bone. Keep this relationship while attempting to lift your heels off the floor. As you do this, your sits bones will continue to narrow, and your pelvic floor muscles will contract. Inhale as you slowly lower your heels. When your heels touch, move right into another squat position and continue with the sequence above: squat, stand, lift heels, then lower heels.

Do this ten times in a row, remembering to coordinate your breath with the movement.

This variation of footwork can also be done on the reformer, with an added bonus of a calf stretch as you lower your heels. If you would like to give it a try, give Beyond Basics a call and schedule an appointment.  If you have any pelvic pain, bladder or bowel frequency or retention, you should speak to your pelvic floor physical therapist before attempting to do any pelvic floor contractions, because this may cause the muscles to tighten even more and increase your symptoms.

Stuck on Acupuncture, Part 2

By Riva Preil

Pelvic Pain Disorders consist of a wide range of problems that affect multiple facets of a person’s quality of life. Since acupuncture works on many levels simultaneously, many of these problems can be addressed in a single session.

From a symptomatic point of view, many of the problems that manifest as pelvic floor dysfunction are common ailments that are regularly treated by acupuncture. Problems such as incontinence, pelvic pain, IBS, vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, genital pain, urinary or bowel burning, frequency or retention, constipation, and diarrhea are routine ailments treated by acupuncturists.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction has an integral relationship with the structure of the musculoskeletal system. In some patients, problems in the musculoskeletal system can be the underlying origin of their complaint. Tight or weak muscles and/or structural misalignments create imbalances in muscle tone which then lead to further postural asymmetries. Trigger points in the abdomen, iliopsoas and external oblique muscles cause vaginal, labial and groin pain as well as constipation.  Tightness of the quadratus lumborum can cause internal pelvic pain, pain with intercourse, pain in the perineum, testicular and genital pain and well as cause constipation or diarrhea.  Hamstring tightness can create pain in the obturator internus.  Tight adductors refer pain to the groin, and piriformis and gluteal muscle tightness can compress the pudendal nerve. When the trigger point is “dry needled” by acupuncture, this mechanically disrupts the integrity of the dysfunctional endplates within the trigger area, and results in mechanical and physiological resolution of the trigger points.

Furthermore, according to the traditional Chinese meridian theory, the external and internal genitals are traversed by a number of channels: the Liver or Foot Jueyin channel, the Spleen or Foot Taiyin channel, and the Kidney or Foot Shaoyin channel. Thus both internal and external genital pain can be accessed from reflex points along these channels. Points along the shin, at the ankle and on the medial knee can be used to decrease both genital pain and pain in the perineum.

A treatment regime consisting of regular acupuncture treatments in combination with Physical Therapy is the ideal approach for chronic pelvic floor dysfunction.

Adapted from material by Paula Haberman, PT, L.Ac

It’s National Lymphedema Awareness Day!

By Roseanne Cruz

Today is National Lymphedema Awareness “D” Day! Each year, on March 6, the National Lymphedema Network and the lymphedema community celebrate Lymphedema Awareness “D” Day, a special day to honor inspirational lymphedema patients: those who have contributed to the community or who have shown great courage in their struggle with disease. We show the world lymphedema is no longer a rare condition by honoring the many people living with it today, and the exceptional health care providers who, with dedication and support, have touched their lives and hearts. In past years, some have been honored at gala events, some in small, intimate gatherings, and others, one-on-one by their health care provider, family, or friend.  This day provides us with a special opportunity to alert our local media, medical community and neighborhoods about lymphedema; to create awareness about the condition, who is at risk, and available treatments, so not one more person will be told they just have to live with it, that nothing can be done.

March into Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!

By Riva Preil

Join us at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy in recognizing March as Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Awareness Month.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CRC is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States among cancers that affect both genders.  Each year, approximately 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with CRC, and about 50,000 of those cases are fatal.

My goal in citing those statistics is NOT  to frighten my readers! Rather, it is to raise public awareness regarding this disease because SCREENING SAVES LIVES!  In fact, according to the CDC, 60% of CRC related deaths would be avoided if individuals 50 years of age and older would be screened on a regular basis.  Screening tests can detect precancerous polyps which can then be removed prior to developing into a dangerous cancer.  If, in fact, the individual already has cancer, the tests can detect the disease during its early stages and allow for earlier treatment (which increases the likelihood of being cured).

The three screening tests for CRC are colonoscopy (recommended once every ten years), high sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT, recommended annually), and sigmoidoscopy (recommended once every five year).  The symptoms of colon cancer include blood in bowel movements, unrelenting stomach pains, cramps, or aches, and unexplained weight loss. Obviously, if you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, don’t wait for your annual FOBT or once in a decade colonoscopy!  Please speak with your primary care physician immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH MORE THAN A POUND OF CURE!  Please take the opportunity this March to give your colon and rectum the attention they deserve.  For more information, please refer to the links below (courtesy of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention).