Success stories from Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City: Mary overcomes her scoliosis to live a more active life with less pain

Mary, who is 79-years old, came in to see us at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City complaining of low back pain that occasionally radiated down to her left leg after long periods of standing or walking.  As a result of this pain, she was unable to walk for long distances. Mary also reported that she had a significant fear of falling, which was making her activities of daily living more challenging and limiting her activities outside of the home.

After hearing Mary describe her symptoms and the resulting problems she was experiencing, her therapist performed a full evaluation to determine what was causing these issues.  The evaluation revealed that Mary had scoliosis, which was diagnosed based on a 30° curve to the left in the mid-to-lower portion of her spine, as well as a right-sided hip shift.  Mary also showed significantly decreased balance—especially on her left side—as well as decreased core stability and some limitations in her lower spine extension and hip strength. Finally, it was discovered that she had a difficult time with diaphragmatic breathing, especially into the right side of her lower thoracic and upper lumbar spine.

How Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City addressed Mary’s issues

Once she was informed of her diagnosis, Mary stated that her primary goal was to improve her ability to perform activities both inside and outside the home without feeling pain or exhaustion.  She also wanted to increase her range of motion and balance, and have less fear of falling when going about her days.

Mary started specific scoliosis exercises based on the Schroth Method, which focused on elongation of her spine and utilizing breath to expand specific parts of her spine opposite her curve.  Mary was able to learn how to perform these exercises while lying on her back, abdomen and side, always with the goal of creating space and driving her breath into specific areas of the spine.  In order to make the improvements she was gaining last, Mary was instructed to incorporate these exercises into her daily routine on a regular basis. Her physical therapy program also included core stability, balance and lower extremity strengthening exercises to address some of her other impairments.

Now that she has completed her treatment program, Mary reports that she has minimal complaints of low back pain, and is currently able to walk for significantly longer distances throughout New York.  She feels that her balance and strength have all improved, and while recently moving apartments, she surprised herself with her ability to pack and move boxes. Mary still comes in to Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City to check in, progress her exercise program and ensure that she’s using proper form with her Schroth exercises, which shows that she realizes the importance of staying diligent with her homework.

Mary had this to say about her experience with us: “At DSPT, I’m learning how to manage my scoliosis and while I can’t reverse it, I can work at stopping its progression. I learn fun things I can do every day to lengthen my spine, like hanging and breathing, and how to increase my core strength and leg strength. What I learn also helps my balance and agility. I’m a big fan of DSPT!”

Come in for a visit and experience similar outcomes

Mary’s story shows that even at an older age and with a number of limitations, sticking to a focused physical therapy program can lead to positive outcomes.  So if you’re dealing with any pain or physical impairments of your own, we invite you to come in for an evaluation so we can figure out what’s bothering and create a program that will work best based on your abilities and goals.  Contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here to read our last blog on scoliosis.

Don’t take a ‘wait and see’ approach when it comes to scoliosis—come see our New York City physical therapists for treatment instead

Many people don’t realize that their spine is actually shaped with natural curves. If you were to look at your spine from the side, you would notice an appearance that resembles the letter “S,” which is due to three curves. While this type of curvature is completely normal, your spine should be straight vertically from the base of your neck to your tailbone. When the spine does curve to the side, however, it means scoliosis is present. This condition can lead to problems if it is not properly addressed, but fortunately our New York City physical therapists can effectively evaluate your curve and set you up on an exercise program designed specifically for you.

Scoliosis is not a disease, but rather a term used to describe this abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. When scoliosis occurs, the spine usually curves in one of three ways:

  • To the side, as a single curve to the left (shaped like the letter “C”)
  • To the side, as a single curve to the right (shaped like a backwards “C”)
  • With two curves (shaped like the letter “S” when looked at from the back)

Scoliosis can develop at any age, but it is most commonly seen in adolescents between 10-18 years old, and is often detected by school screenings or regular physician visits. During screenings, medical professionals look for abnormal curvature of the spine, uneven shoulders, asymmetry of waistline or one hip higher than the other.

Idiopathic scoliosis, which means that it has no known cause, is the most common form overall, as it affects about 2% of the population. Patients with idiopathic scoliosis rarely experience pain and the curve is usually minor when first detected, but this can change over time.

Why our New York City physical therapists use the Schroth and SEAS Methods

After scoliosis is detected, some doctors recommend waiting and regularly monitoring the spine to see if the curve gets worse. Our New York City physical therapists typically recommend using a specific set of exercises instead, which includes the Schroth Method and Scientific Exercises Approach to Scoliosis (SEAS) Method for the best possible results.

Under the Schroth Method, patients perform a set of exercises that are designed to address breathing and positioning. Its goal is to teach patients to improve their alignment in an attempt to halt or slow curve progression. These exercises are taught in the practice but will also be put to use at home to have the best chance of long lasting effect.

There are numerous Schroth Method exercises, and the combination of exercises each patient performs is based on their unique scoliosis and the curves of their spine. Unlike conventional exercises that are performed on both sides of the body, scoliosis exercises are generally applied on one side only in order to correct the imbalances of the spine by lengthening and strengthening muscles.

The SEAS Method is another type of exercise protocol that has been used for over 30 years, with continuous updates being added to it ever since based on advances in research. Therapy typically includes at least two weekly exercise sessions lasting about 40 minutes each, and exercises focus on helping patients recover posture control and improve the stability of their spine. This is accomplished with exercises that strengthen the muscles of the spine and through education that teaches patients how to maintain proper posture in all positions they hold throughout the day, which in turn will improve their functioning, too.

Visit Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy to find out how to treat your scoliosis

By utilizing the Schroth Method and SEAS, our New York City physical therapists are helping patients with scoliosis everyday. If you or your child is dealing with scoliosis, contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information the Schroth Method.

Success stories from Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City: Three weeks of treatment helps Ellias return to sports after suffering a concussion

Ellias is a 17-year-old high school senior that sustained a concussion from a hit during a football playoff game. He was unable to complete the game and did not return the following week due to headaches, photosensitivity, neck pain, difficulty concentrating, and decreased focus with schoolwork. This led Ellias to visit us here at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City to address his bothersome symptoms.

After performing a full evaluation of Ellias’ upper spine, as well as his visual and vestibular systems, we noticed several issues related to his spine. In particular, he was experiencing neck pain, limited neck range of motion in the left and forward directions, weakness in certain muscles, and a convergence insufficiency of 21 cm (the normal range is 4-6 cm), which resulted in double vision. Based on this evaluation, Ellias was diagnosed with a concussion and neck pain.

What we did at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City to help Ellias improve

Before beginning treatment, Ellias stated that his primary goal was to return to competitive sports. Although the football season has ended by the time he came to us, Ellias stated that his sites were on participating in the upcoming basketball season. In addition, Ellias wanted to be able to complete his schoolwork without headaches, improve his lack of concentration, and no longer deal with neck pain that had been interfering with his sleep.

With this in mind, Ellias was given a home-exercise program that consisted of eye exercises to address his convergence insufficiency. The exercises included pencil pushups and brock string exercises, which are both specifically designed for this condition. We also performed various manual therapies on his neck, which included the Active Release Technique, Graston Technique, and manual traction. Finally, Ellias was given exercises to strengthen the deep cervical muscles of his neck, which he was told to perform every day at home.

After three weeks of home exercises and three sessions of manual therapy, Ellias was able to return to playing basketball pain-free, and was thinking clearly, without headaches. He was taken through a return-to-play protocol by his school’s athletic trainer and was able to play in his team’s basketball season without experiencing any issues.

Ellias had this to say about the results of his treatment: “Thanks to Pete and the team at Dynamic Sports PT, I was able to return to playing all sports,” he said. “Having a concussion is scary stuff, but they gave me confidence and always made me feel that I was going to fully recover.”

Experience the same type of success at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City

We are thrilled to see that Ellias was able to return to sports after only three weeks of home exercises and manual therapy. He’s right in saying that having a concussion can be scary, but getting the right treatment for it—and soon—will significantly increase the chances of a successful outcome. So if you’re dealing with concussion symptoms or any other lingering pain from a recent injury, find out how we can help you next. Contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here to read our last blog on sports-related concussions.

Our New York City physical therapists remind you that sports-related concussions can occur at any time throughout the year

When you hear the topic of concussions come up, the first sport that probably comes to mind is football. This reaction is quite typical, and it makes sense, since football is responsible for the majority of sports-related concussions. But even though football seems to get most of the attention around concussions, it’s important to remember that it’s not the only sport in which they occur. The truth is, concussions can happen in just about any sport that involves contact, and high rates are also seen in lacrosse, ice hockey and wrestling. This means that no matter the sport season, our New York City physical therapists think it’s important to be conscious of the dangers and signs of concussions, and to know what to do if one occurs.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results from the brain moving rapidly and banging against the side of the skull. These sudden movements can damage brain tissue and trigger a series of harmful changes that may interfere with normal brain functioning. Of the more than 1 million TBIs that are reported every year, more than half occur in youth sports, which makes the need for prevention and treatment of these injuries even greater for younger athletes.

Surprisingly enough, about 33% of sports-related concussions occur at practice rather than during a game or match. This is particularly crucial to keep in mind when young athletes who participate in camps and clinics throughout the summer, as it shows there’s no “offseason” in which concussions don’t happen. After an athlete does sustain a concussion, symptoms will usually subside after about a week, but this does not necessarily mean no damage has been done. Depending on its severity, some concussions can lead to long-term complications that need to be addressed.

How to stay vigilant about concussions from our New York City physical therapists

Though it’s impossible to prevent all concussions, the best strategy is to take steps to reduce their likelihood and to clearly know their signs and symptoms. Below are some essential steps from our New York City physical therapists to help you stay smart about concussions year-round:

  • Symptoms of a concussion may include difficulty concentrating, headache, fatigue, forgetfulness, dizziness and/or trouble sleeping; in some cases these symptoms can take hours or days to appear, so keep a watchful eye for them
  • After any serious blow to the head, athletes should be evaluated for symptoms; if a concussion is confirmed, they should be taken out of gameplay and evaluated by a medical professional, as it’s very dangerous to return to play within the first 10 days after a concussion
  • The best treatment for a concussion is simply rest and time; young athletes should not return to sports until they’re cleared by their doctor
  • Parents and coaches should make it a focus to ensure young athletes are obeying the rules, wearing proper equipment, playing safely and not pushing through any possible head injuries to lower concussion risk
  • Teaching young athletes neck-strengthening exercises, appropriate techniques—like how to properly tackle in football—and warning them about aggressive play are also ways to reduce the likelihood of a concussion
  • Be aware of post-concussion syndrome, which is when symptoms like dizziness and headache last longer than two weeks; for young athletes with these lingering symptoms, it’s best to see our New York City physical therapists for a vestibular rehabilitation program

Much is being done to increase awareness of concussions and reduce athletes’ risk for experiencing them, but there’s still a ways to go. The best thing you can do is to play your part and make sure others around you are doing the same to keep your children’s heads safe during athletic play. If your child recently suffered a concussion and you’re interested in a vestibular rehabilitation program, or for any other painful conditions you may be dealing with, contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on sports-related concussions.

Success stories from Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City: Four months of hard work allows Angie to ski again after recovering from hip surgery

Angie is a very active 31-year-old who loves to run and does so on a regular basis. But last year, as she started to increase her running mileage, Angie tore the labrum of her left hip, which is a piece of cartilage that protects and stabilizes the hip joint. This was mainly due to an issue called imperfect congruence of her hip joints, which is also known as hip dysplasia. For this injury, Angie received a left arthroscopy hip labral repair on in October of last year from Dr. Roy Davidovitch at NYU Orthopedics. Initially after the surgery, Angie had limited range of motion of her hip, had to walk with crutches and complained of stiffness in her hips.  This led Angie to visit us at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City seeking solutions to these problems.

Before beginning treatment, Angie stated that her goals were to return back to her running routine and she also wanted to participate in a big ski trip planned for February. Following the surgical protocol as provided by Angie’s doctor, our team first worked to progressively increase her hip motion with a variety of exercises and stretches. From there, we worked on improving Angie’s hip strength and stability through targeted strengthening exercises, and slowly helped her return to higher level activities that would allow her to begin running once again.

In addition to the physical therapy work completed in our clinic, Angie was very diligent about doing her home exercise program. After four hard working months of exercise, stretching, manual therapy and education, we were able to navigate Angie through her rehab process! We progressed her through the stages of rehab and got her to doing agility and hopping drills before she completed treatment. Angie reported that she was able to attend her planned skiing trip, and will also start returning to a running program soon.

Angie had this to say about the outcomes of her treatment: “Four months after labral repair surgery on my hip, I am super excited to be back doing the things I love, even skiing!  My hip feels great and the DSPT team has been awesome in helping me regain my strength and mobility.”

Experience the same kind of success when you visit Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City

We are thrilled to hear that Angie accomplished her goal of taking that ski trip and that she’ll return to her running routine soon as well. Her story shows that even after having a surgical procedure, it’s possible to get yourself back on track with a focused rehabilitation plan and dedication to your prescribed exercises. We wish Angie future success in all of her endeavors, and invite any of you dealing with pain to come in to see us at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City if you’re interested in experiencing similar results. Contact us at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here to read our last blog for more information on hip labral tears.

Our New York City physical therapists explain why certain hip injuries are common and what we can do to address them

For those of you who are actively involved in a sport, it’s important to understand your risk for getting injured. Regardless of what sport you participate in, there will always be some degree of injury risk, and the injuries that are most common depend largely on the fundamental movements of that sport. For athletes involved in sports that require lots extending the leg and bending the hip are at an increased risk for hip injuries, and issues like labral tears are actually becoming more common in certain sporting populations. Fortunately, our New York City physical therapists see these injuries often and can prescribe a comprehensive treatment program to address them.

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint in which the “ball” is the top of the thighbone (femur) and the “socket” is the pelvic bone (acetabulum). Both the femur and the acetabulum are covered with smooth articular cartilage that protects the bones and prevents them from rubbing against one another. Another piece of cartilage called the labrum surrounds the hip joint and adds to this protection around bones while also providing a suction seal and stability to the hip.

Labral tears occur when the labrum is damaged from being pulled too far away from the socket. These tears may result from a traumatic incident like a fall or an accident, but in most cases they’re considered overuse injuries that are caused by repetitive motions of the hip joint. Athletes in sports like soccer, football, ice hockey, long-distance running and even golf are at an elevated risk for labral tears due to their mechanics.

The most common symptoms of a labral tear include pain in the hip or groin, stiffness and a catching-like sensation in the hip. In many cases, labral tears actually don’t lead to signs or symptoms, but when they do, it can seriously interfere with your ability to function normally and participate in daily activities and sports.

What our New York City physical therapists can do for your labral tear

While a labral tear might sound serious, the truth is that most of these injuries don’t require surgery and can be effectively treated with a targeted course of physical therapy. After evaluating and diagnosing your problem, our New York City physical therapists will then develop a personalized treatment program that aims to reduce your symptoms and improve your overall function. A typical treatment program will consist of:

  • Recommendations for rest and limiting or temporarily stopping participation in whatever sport caused the injury; icing the injured area is also helpful
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises that focus on the muscles of the hip, as well as the core and leg muscles, since they also affect the functioning of the hip
  • Manual therapy, in which the physical therapist will gently move muscles and joints to decrease pain and improve motion and strength
  • Movement re-education, which will include self-stretching techniques to help restore normal motion of the hip, back and legs; we will also offer advice on stretches to avoid, like passive stretching, which can be damaging to the hip
  • Functional training, which will be based on the fundamental movements needed in your sport and focus on transitioning you back to the court or field

No athlete wants to be sidelined with an injury any longer than is necessary, but the amount of time you’re out has a great deal to do with what type of treatment you receive. Physical therapy is a proven way to help athletes recover as quickly and safely as possible with the most effective treatments available. So if you’re dealing with hip pain that may suggest a labral tear, we strongly advise you to see our New York City physical therapists for an evaluation and treatment program that will rapidly propel your recovery. Contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment and get you started on your path to success today, or click here for more information on labral tears.

Success stories from Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City: Matt is symptom-free from jaw pain after only five treatment sessions

Matt came in to see us at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City because he was dealing with pain and tightness on the left side of his jaw. He explained that his jaw felt extremely achy and was bothering him both during the day and at night. Matt’s pain led him to visit a doctor, who diagnosed him with a temporomandibular joint disorder—or TMD—and gave him a mouth guard.

Matt wore the mouth guard at night as prescribed, but it did not help to relieve his painful symptoms. He also noticed that when he experienced stress, he would grind his teeth, which created more pain and tightness in the jaw. Work had been particularly stressful lately for Matt, and he felt that this increase in stress was making his symptoms worse.

How we addressed Matt’s symptoms at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City

Before beginning treatment, Matt stated that his goals were straightforward: to experience relief of the tension and pain in his jaw. To accomplish this, acupuncture was used to release the tight muscles in his jaw and promote the relaxation response in the body by inducing the parasympathetic mode. Cupping was also performed on Matt’s neck and jaw to promote myofascial release and decrease his pain levels. Breathing exercises and essential oils were used to help further relax the body and the nervous system, since stress was one of the aggravating factors for the symptoms. Matt was also given exercises to perform at home to stretch and strengthen his jaw muscles.

After only five sessions, Matt reported that he was completely symptom free and treatment was completed. Matt was then instructed to continue performing his prescribed exercises at home, which he has stuck with and maintained his positive outcome.

Our team is thrilled to see Matt improve so rapidly, and we believe that his case is a prime example of how quickly change can come about when the appropriate treatments are utilized. If you’re dealing with any pain of your own, whether it be in your jaw or elsewhere in the body, we can help bring about similar benefits for you. Contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here to read our last blog for more information on TMDs.

How jaw pain in New York City can lead to headaches and other bothersome symptoms

Although it’s an area of the body that doesn’t get discussed as often as, say, the back, disorders of the jaw are actually quite common. These types of issues—which are technically called temporomandibular disorders—affect millions of Americans every year, and usually go on to cause symptoms like headaches and jaw pain in New York City. Fortunately, jaw problems can be effectively addressed with a comprehensive and carefully-designed treatment program from our physical therapy team.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that connects the part of the skull directly in front of the ears (temporal bone) to the lower jaw (mandible). Temporomandibular disorders, or TMDs, is a general term used to describe a variety of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and jaw movement.

TMDs most frequently affect women and those between the ages of 20-40, and the most common sign that a TMD may be present is pain or tenderness in the face, jaw, neck or shoulders. Other symptoms include difficulty opening the mouth wide, locking of the jaw, or a painful clicking, popping or grating when opening and closing the mouth. Some individuals also experience headaches that are very similar to migraines, which results in earaches and pain and pressure behind the eyes. Those who experience these symptoms on top of jaw pain should be aware that their condition might be diagnosed as a straightforward headache, when the problem is actually related to their jaw.

The definite cause of TMDs is still unclear, but some theories suggest they may be due to injury in that region, grinding or clenching teeth, osteoarthritis or stress. Whatever the cause, TMDs and resulting headaches can throw a wrench in the spokes of simply functioning in daily life. Fortunately, our physical therapists can provide treatments to help reduce symptoms like jaw pain in New York City. Management for TMDs usually consists of the following components:

Treating TMD-related headaches and jaw pain in New York City

  • Both heat and ice therapy are typically used to improve circulation, reduce swelling, and relieve pain
  • Focused training will also be given to improve posture and correct jaw alignment
  • Your physical therapist will massage the jaw to relieve muscle tension
  • Patients will be instructed to perform specific movements of the TMJ to release scar tissue that restricts muscle movement and to improve range of motion
  • Ultrasound therapy, which uses high-frequency sound waves directed to the TMJ, may also be used to reduce pain and swelling, and improve circulation
  • In some cases, acupuncture may be used to bring about greater pain reductions

You may not hear about TMDs all that often, but if you happen to experience one, you will quickly find out how frustrating it can be to have pain in your jaw and head. So if you’ve noticed any symptoms that suggest a TMD, it’s best to see us at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City for an evaluation. Contact us at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on TMDs.

Success stories from Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City: Julien resumes his running routine after six months of treatment

Julien came to Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City to address chronic pain on his left side, which had developed after he was knocked down playing soccer over a year and a half ago. Due to the pain and dysfunction that resulted from the injury, Julien had stopped his normal sporting activities of soccer and running. Over time, this caused him to lose strength, which consequently reinforced his symptoms.

“After a nasty fall, I was left with diffuse discomfort/pain that extended from my neck/left shoulder area to my left leg,” Julien said. “The multiplicity and poor coherence of symptoms I manifested complicated any attempts at diagnosis and treatment of my condition for 18 months. I was starting to lose all hope of recovery when I was finally referred to Bridget Dungan, a physical therapist at Dynamic Sports PT. Bridget immediately revealed herself to be a true maestro, orchestrating all aspects of my recovery with precise methodology; first, she took the time to listen to the overwhelming number of symptoms I listed without discrediting any of them. She then carefully evaluated which articulations, muscles and joints needed release. Finally, she designed progressive and logical exercises for stabilization and core muscle reinforcement, covering both my lower and upper body.”

Julien’s evaluation revealed weakness at his hips, deep core and the muscles that stabilize and control the left shoulder blade. He also had some mild dysfunction related to the alignment of his ribs and left shoulder blade, with some aberrant movement patterns at his left shoulder with functional activities.

Julien’s treatment program from Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City

Bridget started each session with manual therapy consisting mostly of Active Release Technique to address Julien’s shortened or overactive muscles. In the beginning, she also worked on his intercostal muscles and diaphragm, incorporating breathing exercises in order to help with his thoracic alignment. Manual therapy was always followed by neuromuscular reeducation exercises to help teach and reinforce good movement patterns throughout his shoulders, thorax and hips. Bridget also discussed the role that stress can play with chronic pain, as Julien noticed that he was often more symptomatic on days that work was stressful.

Julien was very consistent with his home-exercise program and remained highly motivated throughout the course of his therapy. When he was ready, Bridget started him on running specific exercises, plus a running program consisting of intervals that gradually progressed to continuous running. Julien has now returned to running about three times per week, and completed a few races this past summer and fall, including a 15K. He looks forward more racing in 2018!

“Bridget ensured that I made steady progress by adjusting the nature and intensity of my exercises over the course of my six-month treatment program,” Julien said. “Equally important, she explained the purpose of each exercise she prescribed to me, made sure I would never feel pain, and empathized with my injury, truly taking my personal objectives for recovery to heart. For all this, I am immensely grateful to her and the superb staff at DS, especially the reception desk. I continue to do the exercises that she recommended at home, and I am running again and slowly getting back to my former pace, although not without plenty of sweat, :-).”

Experience similar outcomes for any pain or dysfunction you may be experiencing

Julien’s story shows that even after sustaining such a complex injury with a variety of symptoms, a full recovery is possible when a patient firmly commits to their treatment program. So if you are experiencing any pain, discomfort or dysfunction of your own, we strongly encourage you to stop in for an evaluation to figure out what’s going on. From there, our physical therapists can create a personalized program to bring you back to full strength that will be based on your abilities and goals.   Contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here to read our last blog on spinal alignment.

Our New York City physical therapists break down how bad spinal alignment can lead to problems elsewhere in the body

For as long as most of us can remember, we’ve been told by our parents to sit up straight and keep good posture. Whether or not that advice has been followed will differ from person to person, but sooner or later we should all come to see that our parents were right: good posture is extremely important. When your spine is correctly aligned—which is the result of great posture over time—it allows the rest of the body to function more effectively and efficiently. But improper spinal alignment, on the other hand, can throw many parts of your upper body out of whack. Below, our New York City physical therapists explain how this can happen and what we can do to help.

The spine is divided into three sections: the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions. The thoracic spine refers to the upper and middle back, which connects the cervical spine of the neck and extends down about five inches past the bottom of the shoulder, where it connects to the lumbar region of the lower back. This section of the spine is made up of 12 vertebrae (spinal bones), which is more than the cervical (7) and lumbar (5) regions.

The thoracic spine also has a significantly different purpose that the other parts: while the cervical spine is built for flexibility and the lumbar spine is build for power and flexibility, the thoracic is built for stability. This stability plays an important part in holding the body upright and providing protection to the vital organs in the chest. Having a stable thoracic spine is also a huge part of developing and maintaining function throughout the rest of the body.

It’s for this reason that problems with the thoracic spine can influence other body regions. A healthy spine is one that is properly aligned, but there are several forces that can throw it out of alignment and cause dysfunction. The thoracic spine can fall out alignment from having bad posture for a long period of time, exercising too hard for too long, or not getting enough physical activity. It can even be knocked out of alignment from an extreme force such as a fall, and when this occurs, it can lead to pain, headaches, impaired posture, dysfunctional breathing, a decrease in athletic performance and possibly other injuries. Together, this can cause additional weakness and inactivity, making it even more difficult to recover.

How our New York City physical therapists can address thoracic dysfunction

Fortunately, even though this sounds like a daunting injury, our New York City physical therapists have a plan to address it. Treatment programs for thoracic alignment dysfunction tend to be quite comprehensive since so many areas are involved, and a typical program will include the following components:

  • Posture reeducation exercises: since posture is one of the main issues involved, there will be a major focus on restoring and maintaining good posture
  • Strengthening exercises: building back strength in areas that have become weak from the injury—like the hips and core—is also crucial
  • Breathing exercises: these types of exercises, such as diaphragm self-release, are designed to bring back normal breathing patterns
  • Manual therapy: hands-on therapy performed by the therapist for muscles in the ribs and any other muscles that are shortened or overactive will help to improve their function

So if you’re dealing with any issues that may be related to your thoracic spine, or any other lingering pain, for that matter, our New York City physical therapists are here to help. Contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on the anatomy of the thoracic spine.