Why did you get into physical therapy?
I half joke I wanted to wear gym shoes, sweat pants, and not shave every day. It’s only a half joke. I graduated from college with a degree in Exercise Science, and ended up working for a large health club, in their corporate offices in Chicago. This took me to Washington DC, where I eventually did meeting and event planning at the second largest government owned building in the nation (the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center). It was a good experience and also an experience that made me realize I didn’t want to do what I was doing.
It solidified for me that I wanted to work one on one with people, and that I didn’t want to make money for a faceless corporation, especially one I didn’t believe in. At that point,I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew what I didn’t want to do….and that included wearing a suit, sitting behind a desk and working for a large & layered company. That led me to what I did want, which was to work one on one with people, have the ability to be intimate with them and make a difference in their daily lives, and also to work for myself. It actually came down to culinary school and PT school. Interestingly enough, growing up, my mother owned a catering company and my father owned a health club.
I got my massage license after I was a PT, for a couple of reasons, including wanting more study on soft tissue, which wasn’t as extensive as I would have liked in PT school. I chose to get the LMT instead of a transitional DPT because I didn’t feel the DPT would do as much for me at that time, as I was beginning my business.
What do you do for exercise / do you play a sport?
I do a lot of yoga, and love to cycle. I have recently been doing more strength training, particularly kettlebell work and most recently have begun to participate in CrossFit, mainly because we have a clinic inside an excellent CrossFit in Chicago.
Tell us about your practice. Where, and what do you specialize in?
I practice in Chicago, and am co-owner of REAL PT. We specialize in helping people to feel better! We currently have 4 locations, located in the West Loop, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and the Loop in Chicago, where we work with patients 1-on-1 always. Our entire philosophy can be summed up through victims and criminals. Victims scream and criminals remain silent. It’s not the knee, low back, shoulder or neck’s fault when it hurts. Those are victims. We specialize in stopping the victim from crying and catching the criminal, which typically is a joint or two above or below the area that hurts. One of our specialities is understanding integrated movement, as both my partner and I are Fellows of Applied Functional Science (AFS) through the Gray Institute. This background, along with other modalities, is what sets us apart.
What is the most common problem your clients come to you to fix?
First, I’d say that I don’t fix anything for anyone. I facilitate people healing themselves. It’s important to recognize that they’re the ones doing the work and have the desire for change. It’s a very important differentiation for me. I can show the person the proverbial water, but it’s up to them to drink. That being said, people come to me in pain! Most people come to see me for knee, low back, shoulder or neck pain. Although more and more people are presenting with hip pain, which I believe is secondary to sitting. I work with young and old, very conditioned to very deconditioned. If you have a desire to improve, then I believe we have the capacity to help do that.
What is the most under-rated advice that PTs give to their clients? Why?
- Motion is lotion, and if you don’t move it you lose it.
- More isn’t always better. I find that often people think that if a subtle stretch is good, a very intense stretch is better. However this isn’t the case.
- Name it to tame it.
I believe that regular, pain free motion based on the thresholds of the individual is the key to facilitating pain free motion. Creating parasympathetic (rest and digest) responses in the nervous system is a key to treatment, and both educating someone on the process and also getting them to giggle are great strategies to facilitate parasympathetic responses. When in pain, educating a patient/client on naming their pain, “hey, my back is hurting” sets up a feedback loop where the person in pain is able to work to relax their nervous system, rather than get focusing on trying to get out of pain right then, which typically doesn’t happen. By naming it, one has a choice: let the nervous system go into a flight or flight response by continuing to do what you’ve done (rub on where it hurts, stretch it or fixate on it) or a rest and digest response that recognizes getting out of pain right NOW probably won’t happen, but breathing and recognizing the issue can feed forward to create lasting changes. . .
What was your first experience with RockTape?
I was introduced to RockTape via social media. I think I became friends with Steve Capobianco right about the time I started following Perry Nickelston and Stop Chasing Pain on FB. My experience with stretchy tape initially wasn’t that positive. I couldn’t get my head around why I’d tape a muscle to facilitate or inhibit it, when philosophically I didn’t believe in muscles and the research showed that the tape doesn’t facilitate or inhibit based on direction.
Perry and I became friendly, and when I taught a course in New Jersey, he attended as my guest. When we met, he gave me a couple rolls of his branded SCP RockTape for me to try, while imparting some knowledge about taping a motion and not a muscle. I went back to my clinic that next week and began experimenting with RockTape. I was very impressed, leading me to further conversations with Capo about it’s benefit, and the rest is history. 🙂
How do you utilize RockTape in your practice?
It’s a great adjunct for my practice. I’ve grown to believe that a key aspect for those in pain is creating behavior change. I believe a great benefit of RockTape is that it can be utilized to engrain new habits, including sitting straighter at the desk or taking brakes through out the day.
For example, people that sit at their desks without taking frequent movement brakes tend to have more neck, low back or shoulder pain, vs someone that tends to take those breaks. When educating someone about the tape, we talk about the benefits for pain, decompression & neuro reeducation. When talking specifically about neuro reeducation, I teach that when the tape is felt, sit tall & take a deep breath, or get up and move around, or whatever that individual needs to do to create behavior change. Then, every time they feel the tape they link a correction to a new behavior. Whatever it is however, I believe that taking a deep, diaphragmatic breath is important. Respiration is subconscious, we do it 20000 times per day, but breathing is conscious. Therefore, linking breathing to a behavior change allows one to recognize and concentrate on the new behavior, which helps to create neuroplastic changes in the nervous system.
I also use the tape to assist in supporting an area in pain or through movement. I like the Capo’s analogy of a thunder jacket for a body part that is painful or injured in that it can help to relax the nervous system. Often times when people are in pain, the body runs sympathetic, or fight or flight mode. In order to create behavior change (or any change), the key is to rest and digest, or create parasympathetic response. Just like putting a weighted compressive vest on a nervous and shaking dog or cat during a storm helps to calm the animal down, applying a piece of adhesive elastic tape to the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, can create a compressive effect and alter the afferent input enough to alter the output to create a relaxing response. I joke that the stretchy tape is like giving the painful region a big hug.
What’s your favorite RockTape pattern?
You have a book coming out shortly. Tell us about it!
I joke that it’s a love story about a boy and a movement program. In all seriousness, its called REAL Movement: A Perspective on Integrated Motion & Motor Control, It’s my perspective on applying two thought processes that on their own create lasting changes, integrated movement and motor control theories. It started as an adjunct to some of the courses I teach. I realized that people would ask where to learn more about “this stuff” and I realized there wasn’t any one place that had it all.
The book is an introduction to how integrated movement, fascia & the nervous system work to control the the body. In each chapter there’s additional readings list to learn more about each topic covered. The truth is for all the topics I discuss, it’s just an introduction and only scratches the surface. I’ve been fortunate to have studied with some very smart people in the movement industry, and have obtained their permission to talk about how I use their work in my work.
My goal for the book, in addition to being a good resource for someone to improve movement, is to be a resource to know where to learn more.
Who might be interested in checking it out?
People that love movement! People that have found it useful include Physical Therapists, Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Athletic Trainers, Occupational Therapists, personal trainers and coaches, although I believe the advanced participant in movement/sport will also get something out of it.
Keep the center rolls of your Rocktape! I use this tool to assist with creating segmental spinal mobility. Often times, people 'chunk' their spine movements if there isn't specific joint mobility, and therefore strategies to effectively enhance segmental dissociation with a movement is important. I teach my patients to place the roll across the segment of limitation, taking long slow breaths, think about letting the skin swallow the roll, so moves closer to the spine. Then, attempt to push roll out of the skin, pushing the roll away from the spine. I found this is a great strategy that brings mobility, and more importantly awareness to a specific segment. Spine mobility is important for pain free hips, low backs, shoulders, knees and necks. This afternoon I'll demonstrate some movement progressions for the Posterior X, or posterior sling, which is so imortant for low back stability and effective movement Questions? Comments? #biomechanicaldetective #REALmovement #motorcontrol #integratedmovement #segmentaldissociation #Rocktape #Rocktapelifehack