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How Does Your Spine Stack Up?

You may have heard your neighbor, friend or your doctor suggest physical therapy for an ache or pain you have mentioned to them. But what exactly is physical therapy, what does a physical therapist do and how can it help?

Many do not realize the benefits of Physical Therapy. According to Amy Adams, MPT at Progressive Physical Therapy, “Physical Therapy is health care provided by a licensed physical therapist that remedies impairments and disability caused from injury or illness”. Physical Therapists are trained in movement and movement disorders and are considered specialist in musculoskeletal function. They perform an evaluation to determine limitations and why the pain or dysfunction is occurring. Physical Therapist then use their training to correct the dysfunction, educate the individual about the dysfunction, and provide them with the knowledge to keep themselves healthy, decreasing the possibility of continued need for therapy or other medical services. The goal of PT is to return people to their level of function prior to the illness or injury, as quickly and safely as possible.

Physical Therapy can address many different issues including sprains/strains, back and neck pain, shoulder instability, ankle pain and instability, foot pain, sports injuries, work injuries, dizziness, pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, incontinence, pre- and post-pregnancy pain, arthritis, osteoporosis and weight bearing restrictions. This is not an all-inclusive list, as physical therapy has multiple aspects to help an individual to regain their function.

Your spine is an amazing piece of machinery that can fail you if it is not properly cared for, placing you in the category of 80% of the population that experience back pain at some time in their life. The spine is made up of 33 vertebral bones stacked just right to support your body weight and absorb shock, give you an upright structure, help to maintain balance, and protect the spinal cord while still allowing full range of motion for normal body functions. However, this structure can change and cause pain if it is not taken care of.

The spinal column has natural curves that form an S shape from the front to back of your body.

These natural curves are maintained by strong muscles, good flexibility and proper posture, particularly during lifting and functional activities. The flexor muscles, in the front of the body, and the extensor muscles, in the back of your body, also referred to as the core, work together to stabilize your spine, allow you to stand upright and to lift objects. These core muscles work to stabilize the spine during functional activities so that your legs may perform the task at hand.

Amy Adams, physical therapist, at Progressive Physical Therapy’s new Spine Center suggests that the secret to a healthy spine is quite simple and offers 5 rules for a healthy spine that are the core components of the spine center’s treatment philosophy.

  1. Maintain Good Posture: It is important to keep your spine in proper alignment so it is able to support any extra stress that may be encountered on a daily basis. Good posture means to maintain the natural curves of your spine.

  2. Exercise Regularly: Keeping your body healthy by regular exercise keeps the muscles strong and flexible. This keeps the stress of being upright off the spine itself and allows movement in all directions.

  3. Use Good Body Mechanics: Unfortunately, our world is in front of most of us most of our day because of computerized systems. It is important to sit and stand maintaining the proper curves of your spine, have a work station that is appropriate for you body size and build, as well as use proper lifting techniques.

  4. Think Before You Lift: There are many different ways to lift, some good, some not so good. ALWAYS lift properly when able. Plan your lifting BEFORE you lift and ask for help if needed. Use your legs, as they are the power house when you lift, and maintain the normal curves in you spine.

  5. Eat Healthy and Don’t Smoke: Like the rest of your body, the spine depends on the proper nutrition to keep the discs and bones healthy and strong. A diet full of empty calories and high in fat will not provide that nutrition. Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen to the body, including the spine, making it more vulnerable to injury and delaying the healing process. Some studies suggest that smoking increases the likelihood of spinal injury and degenerative changes by 300 to 400 percent.

Keeping your back strong and healthy is no big secret, but the success of a healthy back is up to you. Progressive Physical Therapy’s New Spine Center can give you the tools you need to get on the road to a healthy and pain free spine. So, how do you stack up? To find out, call 301-729-3485 or check out our website at

Early physical therapy can also increase a person’s function quicker, returning them to a more productive and meaningful life. Early intervention of physical therapy can speed up the recovery process by decreasing the time the body is able to compensate or perform “bad” movements, leading to increased complications or problems. If a surgery is indicted, it will also allow the muscles to stay toned and strong, making the post surgical recovery easier.

Physical Therapist are becoming more accessible to the general public through direct access of the service, i.e. without the need for referral, therefore, they are also trained in identifying problems which are outside the scope of physical therapy and need referred to a physician or specialist. Physical Therapy will provide safe and effective activity to assist in the healing process and allow quick referral out to another trained medical professional if needed. Remember, your doctor is still an integral part of your care, so talk to your doctor about the benefits of physical therapy. Be an active part of your health! For more information on physical therapy, visit our website at

Article submitted by Amy Adams, MPT Progressive Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center

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