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Did you know that ice baths actually have an ancient lineage? That’s right! Monks have been cold plunging for thousands of years. This is because the benefits of ice baths are hard to ignore. Cold plunging, AKA cold water immersion, cold therapy, cryotherapy, or ice bathing is amazing for your mental and physical health. If you are wondering, “What does an ice bath do?” you are not alone. Clearly, this practice is not for the faint of heart. Monks and cold plunging enthusiasts alike agree that ice baths induce positive stress, which requires a total Zen mindset to navigate. Beyond that, strained and inflamed muscles will experience immediate relief.

Wait, you mean to tell me you would like me to fill my bathtub full of cold water and ice and jump on in? Voluntarily??

Well, hey, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Perhaps one of the most accessible ways to polar plunge in an ice bath is in the comfort of your own tub. Filling the tub with cold water (and adding some ice for an extra kick) is certainly one way of reaching cryo-nirvana. Another way is to take a dip in the ocean or a nearby lake in the winter. Obviously, be sure to take appropriate precautions. Your body will likely go numb after a few seconds, so you don’t want to be too deep that you can’t make your way out of the water safely.

If you want to try cold plunging, but you aren’t ready to commit to such an extreme version, you can test the waters (see what we did there?) by turning your shower to the coldest possible temperature when you are done bathing. Let the cold water run over your entire body for as long as you can possibly stand it. The ancient monks practiced cold plunging in a similar way, by standing under waterfalls for extended periods of time.

“What is the point? What does an ice bath do for me?”

Read on for three ice bath benefits.

1. Stress Relief

We are living in some stressful times, folks! With a historical event occurring literally every 6 days, this past year has been one for the books! Collectively, this has done quite a number on our anxiety and stress levels. Our adrenal glands are working overtime as we constantly react to the world around us. But, we have got some great news for you! One of the many benefits of ice baths is that they provide substantial stress relief.

When you submerge yourself in an ice bath, you activate your sympathetic nervous system. While the cold temperature may shock you, it will also send blood to your brain and your core, which helps to flush out the neurotoxins that cause anxiety and depression.

Cryotherapy also helps stimulate a more awakened state (literally). The initial shock brings immediate attention and awareness to sensations in your body, which demands your total presence. This is one of the goals of meditation. Consider ice plunging to be somewhat of a shortcut. From that moment of total awareness, your mentality will actually shift to a focus on endurance.

This means, your goal (in your mind’s eye) shifts from, “Can I do it? Can I submerge into that icy tub??” to “I did it! Now how long can I stand it?”

This internal conversation takes awareness, mindfulness, and presence. These are all of the same thought processes involved with meditation. Thus, the outcome is very much the same. A regular cold plunging routine will provide you with stress relief and a better mindset.

2. Improved Circulation

Ice baths are a potent way to improve your circulation. Submerging your body in ice-cold water will increase your heart rate and your blood pressure, which, temporarily, is a very good thing.

The sudden drop in temperature is going to constrict your outer blood vessels, which forces your blood to flow away from the surface of your body. Instead, the blood will flow deeper toward your body’s core, which will increase circulation to all of your major organs. When you stabilize your temperature back to normal, the blood will flow again to your body’s surface. This manipulation of your overall circulation is extremely beneficial for your health.

3. Improved Immune Function

Another ice bath benefit is improved immune function. Stress has been deemed, “the silent killer.” Collectively, we have experienced a whole lot of it this past year. Thankfully, cold plunging has the amazing ability to lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol is your “fight or flight” hormone, and it is caused and released by stress.

Excess levels of cortisol in your body can cause a whole myriad of issues including, but not limited to, rapid weight gain, muscle deterioration, diabetes, and even skin that bruises easily. No thanks! Cortisol also weakens your immune system. With the pandemic still in full effect and with it being cold and flu season, it is important to keep your body’s first line of defense in optimal condition. Cryotherapy can help you to keep cortisol, that nasty hormone, in check!

Another benefit of ice bathing is increased metabolism. (Hello, weight loss!) Who doesn’t love a simple hack for a smaller waistline, especially after the many shelter in place orders we have all endured?! Ice baths also increase your dopamine levels, AKA the reward hormone. When your dopamine levels are low, you will experience fatigue, moodiness, lack of focus, and low libido. This may lead to procrastination, feelings of hopelessness, and mood swings. Thankfully you can turn all of that around within minutes, simply by taking an ice bath. Plunging into cold water will flood your brain with dopamine, leaving you in a much better mood.



If you are experiencing muscle soreness, a stiff neck, or mobility issues, trigger point dry needling may be for you! Dry needling is an alternative therapy that decreases pain in your muscles by deactivating a myofascial trigger point. Trigger points are tiny knots that develop in a muscle when it is injured or overworked. These spots are tender at the site and often refer pain to other areas. This treatment uses a dry needle (a needle without medicine) to deactivate trigger points in your muscle. Read on to learn what the treatment entails, how it is different from Acupuncture, as well as the benefits and side effects of this revolutionary treatment.

What is Dry Needling Therapy?

Dry needling is a skilled intervention in which a filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. If you are wondering what that means exactly, you have probably experienced pain in your back and referred to it as having a “knot.” That so-called “knot” is actually a tight and irritated band of muscle fiber. Because it has tightened to a point of forming a bump or nodule, it actually shortens the muscle and restricts your range of motion. This causes pain and inflammation and can have somewhat of a domino effect on your entire body. When muscle groups don’t function to their maximum capacity, other muscles will compensate and you will end up with more “knots” or myofascial trigger points. The treatment of muscles has the greatest effect on reducing the pain mechanisms in the nervous system.

Trigger point dry needling can be used in all phases of healing as well as a “maintenance” tool. The musculoskeletal system is under constant pressure from gravity, stress, work, etc. A regular exercise program combined with good posture can prevent many problems. If the pain returns, “tune-ups” are recommended to treat and prevent serious injuries.

There are a few different techniques that practitioners use. Sparrow pecking or pistoning involves the in-and-out insertion of a needle. The motion is fast and repetitive and stimulates all areas of an affected point. Another technique of dry needling involves a broader stimulation of the entire nervous system. The practitioner will insert needles around the area in pain, but not on the trigger point itself. The needles typically stay in place for longer with this method. The idea is to stimulate the surrounding nerves and muscle tissue in order to create more blood flow and release of tension in the actual trigger point itself.

Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture

At first glance, dry needling and acupuncture may look exactly alike. They both use thin, stainless steel needles. They both involve the insertion of the needles into the skin and they are both beneficial in the treatment of pain and ailments. So, how are they different?

For starters, Acupuncture originated in China (circa 6000 BCE). Since that time, the methods and evolution of the needles used have improved greatly. This ancient Chinese medicine technique has also gained a lot of traction in the Western world, to the point that many U.S. insurance policies now cover it. This ancient form of healing is rooted in Taoist philosophy and tradition. Practitioners would utilize meditation to observe energetic meridians in the body. Using the needles to stimulate specific energetic centers and trigger points, they would direct the flow of energy, releasing any blockages, and encouraging healing.

Dry needle therapy is similar to acupuncture in that the needles target specific trigger points, but the points are actual places of anatomic ailment (i.e. knots) rather than energetic meridians. This means that the target points are tangible and can actually be physically shown. That is not to say that energetic blockages are not real or harmful, but it would be a lot more difficult to show someone a photo of your Chi than it would be to show them a picture of your nodule or bump, caused by a muscle spasm.

For this reason, dry needling may be a bit easier to grasp in the Western world, where people tend to prefer science over spirituality. Performance and placement of dry needling are based on the understanding of neuroanatomy and the physiologic effects on the musculoskeletal system. It involves a thorough evaluation of the musculoskeletal system and identification of trigger points and tissue dysfunction. These areas are where the needles are placed.

In Western medicine, it is also far more common to directly treat the area of the body that is in pain, rather than looking at what may have been the origin. For example, when someone has an injured hip, Western medicine will likely involve targeting the muscles around the hip joint and mobilizing the joint itself. A doctor may prescribe pain medication or a steroid to combat inflammation. When an Eastern medicine practitioner treats a hip injury, he or she will not only aim to mobilize the injured area but will also incorporate breathing and meditation exercises, and perhaps stimulation of the energetic meridians that run through the second or Sacral Chakra.

Yoga Physical Therapy: Healing From Within

What are the benefits?

The benefits of dry needling include but are not limited to the myofascial release within the neck, back, and shoulders. Dry needle therapy can also reduce headaches (such as migraines and tension-type headaches), foot pain (plantar fasciitis), and leg pain (sciatica, hamstring strains, calf tightness/spasms).

Athletes may enjoy the benefits of trigger point dry needling, as it is capable of increasing one’s range of motion and flexibility as well as providing relief of muscle pain and stiffness.

What are the side effects?

While the side effects of dry needle therapy are common, the majority of them pose no serious risk or long-term complications. The most important precaution for this treatment is the use of sterile needles and also the pre-treatment sterilization of the targeted area. Our Doctors of Physical Therapy use brand new needles out of a package at each point of service and dispose of the needles after use. They also use alcohol prep pads to sterilize your skin before beginning the treatment.

Aside from minor swelling, bruising, bleeding, and temporary soreness at the treatment site, you shouldn’t have much of an adverse reaction. The biggest risk of trigger point needle therapy is the contraction of bloodborne illnesses and/or diseases due to improper sanitation practices. It is more than okay to ask your practitioner to show you the brand new needle in the packaging prior to use and to make sure they are wiping your skin with alcohol.

Where can I go for Dry Needle Therapy?

If you are in the greater Boston metro area, LCG Boston can provide concierge dry needling support and services for any individual.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), chronic pain affects approximately 50 million U.S. adults. High-impact chronic pain (i.e., interfering with work or life most days or every day) affects about 20 million U.S. adults. The management of these symptoms may involve medications. However, there are several alternative and holistic methods available to treat chronic back pain and other ailments. With September being Pain Awareness Month, we will discuss some of the ways you can manage such pain. 

In the western world, pain management often involves taking pharmaceuticals, which may be a slippery slope, even when prescribed by a doctor. As a nation, we are facing an opioid crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 2.1 million U.S adults are addicted to prescription pain medication. An additional 467,000 are addicted to heroin. While opiate-based pharmaceuticals may offer temporary relief from chronic pain, the repercussions involved with addiction are likely to be far worse than the pain they were intended to treat. Luckily, alternative methods and healing arts can be instrumental in treating pain and enriching your life and health.

Physical Therapy

Chronic pain can be a severe interruption to your day-to-day life, activities, and even your career. But, what is classified as chronic pain? In the medical field, it is any pain that has been present for more than 12 consecutive weeks. A physical therapist is trained to evaluate your range of motion and capacity for mobility.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy

Once you have been evaluated, your therapist will treat you with a customized care plan tailored to your specific needs. They will help you regain mobility and work with you to relieve the pain you are experiencing. Treatments could involve mobility exercises, hot or cold compresses, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), or even ultrasound technology. Physical Therapy can help people experiencing pain in areas such as the back, neck, knees, shoulders, hips, and wrists.

Click here if you are in need of Physical Therapy services.


Another way to help prevent pain or to treat existing pain is to exercise. Yoga is a fantastic way to heal your body from the inside out. Many types of Yoga, such as Yoga Nidra and Hatha Yoga are very low-impact and are restorative, relaxing, and have a strong focus on breathing and meditation.

Connecting your mind and body can be a powerful way to release pain and work through physical and emotional trauma. When you breathe heavily, you increase blood flow and oxygen levels within your entire body. This can be extremely beneficial to areas where you are experiencing pain. Regular stretching and movement can also increase your flexibility and overall mobility.

Yoga Physical Therapy: Healing From Within

If Yoga isn’t appealing to you, any form of exercise is beneficial. Swimming is low-impact for joints and can be incredibly healing. Even adding walking into your daily routine can help get your blood and oxygen levels pumping. Whenever possible, aim to walk or ride your bicycle instead of driving.

Click here if you are in need of Yoga Physical Therapy services.

Healing Arts

While often available in a spa setting, healing arts are not only for people on vacation or on #selfcaresundays kicks. Healing arts such as massage, acupuncture, Chiropractic adjustments, and Reiki, have tangible and measurable impacts.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recognized that massage therapy has been demonstrated to alleviate chronic pain symptoms. Harvard Medical School acknowledges massage as a legitimate therapy for some painful conditions. Therapeutic massage may relieve pain by relaxing muscles, tendons, and joints. Their publication explains that, “It can also relieve stress and anxiety, helping to, ‘close the pain gate,’ by stimulating competing nerve fibers and impeding pain messages to and from the brain.’

Speaking of stimulating nerves, acupuncture works specifically with the nervous system. Practitioners utilize very small needles, heat, and pressure on the skin to stimulate responses. Trigger points are accessed with the small needles, causing a release of chemicals into the spinal cord. The chemicals are similar to those found in opiates and pharmaceuticals that are used to treat pain (such as hydrocodone or morphine), but they are naturally occurring in the body and therefore don’t pose the threat of addiction.

Acupuncturists may also stimulate the release of neurotransmitters (AKA hormones) that regulate nerve endings. In other words, an acupuncturist may be able to actually “shut off” the sensation of pain by stimulating certain trigger points within your body.

Chiropractors work primarily with the skeletal system. They are trained to make adjustments to realign the spine and surrounding muscles. If your job is sedentary, your back and neck may fall easily out of alignment from sitting for hours each day. Conversely, if you are extremely physically active, your spine may also be pushed out of proper alignment. Many women experience a spinal misalignment after giving birth. The coccyx can be pushed out of place when delivering a baby, which may lead to chronic sciatic and lower back pain if left untreated. A chiropractor can be extremely helpful in pushing the coccyx (AKA the tailbone) back into place. This can often lead to an immediate sense of relief.

While Reiki healing may sound a bit more on the esoteric side, it is a practice with an ancient lineage that originated in Japan thousands of years ago. The most current form of Reiki was officially developed in the 1920s by a Japanese Buddhist. The healing practice involves a practitioner holding his or her hands above an effected area and transferring healing energy to the patient. Reiki is based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient through touch, activating the natural healing processes of the patient’s body, and restoring physical and emotional well-being. The root of the practice is the ability to tap into a universal current of Chi (or energy) and transfer it to stimulate flow and release. Much like how Yoga asanas help someone release or shift the flow of blocked energy through movement, Reiki accomplishes the same thing by way of touch. The result of either practice is the relief from trauma or pain.



August 29, 2020 Alternative Therapies

Scientifically proven, FDA-cleared, and award-winning Celluma is the choice of many pain management professionals worldwide. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, and wellness practitioners value this non-attended modality to easily and effectively treat a variety of pain, muscle, and joint conditions anywhere on the body. Celluma is also effective in treating and preventing acne and is a non-invasive and potent device for use in anti-aging efforts.

Okay, that sounds great, but what is Celluma LED light therapy?

Celluma therapy utilizes high-intensity light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to trigger a bio-stimulatory effect in human tissue. Particles of light (AKA photons) may be absorbed in the mitochondria and cell membranes and transformed into a form of energy known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The elevation of ATP is then used to power metabolic processes; synthesize DNA, RNA, proteins, enzymes, and other products needed to repair or regenerate cell components; foster mitosis or cell proliferation; and restore homeostasis.

If those were a lot of new vocabulary words, in Layman’s Terms, you can think of it as a battery charger for compromised cells. You can essentially give those cells a boost and encourage them to get back to work. The effects depend on the types of light used, and some types of light are recommended for multiple indications.

Celluma Light Therapy

There are six types of cells that are affected by LED therapy. Fibroblast cells, which produce collagen and elastin fibers in connective tissue, can be improved with mostly red and a small amount of infrared light. Keratinocytes provide structural integrity to skin, hair, and nails. They are also responsible for skin clarity, tone, and texture. Celluma LED Light Therapy will activate these cells with both red and infrared light.

Mast cells are essential for inflammatory reactions and can be treated with both red and infrared light. Similarly, Neutrophil cells (leukocytes) are the body’s first line of defense in the inflammatory process. Adequate numbers are important to protect the body from infection. Both of these cell types can be treated by Celluma Light Therapy with red and infrared LEDs. Macrophage cells (also leukocytes) play a vital role in activating specific immune responses. These, too, will be activated and charged with red and infrared LED light therapy treatments.

The range of indications that Celluma can be used to treat is vast. Given that the device is portable, comes in several models and sizes, and completely non-invasive to the user, it makes it quite an appealing alternative to many options on the market. It is flexible and versatile and can be applied to any part of the body or focused specifically on the face. Read on to learn more about how Celluma LED light therapy can change your life.

Helps Reduce and Clear Acne

Celluma has been cleared by the FDA to treat inflammatory acne vulgaris, which is caused by pores that are deeply clogged with bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil. Treatments involve the utilization of blue LEDs, which have been shown to diminish bacteria. This helps to clear existing breakouts and restore the skin’s healthy appearance. With the equal use of some red and infrared LEDs, keratinocyte cells can be stimulated to improve skin clarity, tone, and texture.


Say goodbye to expensive creams that don’t work, plastering your face with silicone strips before bed every night, and Botox injections. With Celluma’s red LED treatments, patients will enjoy the benefits of increased collagen production, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. With the stimulation of fibroblast cells, elasticity may be restored and the crepe-like appearance that comes with age will begin to tighten. Skin in the treated area will be noticeably smoother and more firm with repetitive treatments. Smile lines and crow’s feet are also treatable with Celluma LED Light Therapy.

Reduce Muscle and Joint Pain

Aging elders and athletes alike will enjoy the benefits of red and infrared Celluma treatments. These treatments have been approved by the FDA for multiple indications including arthritis, muscle spasms, muscle, and joint pain, muscle tissue tension, joint and muscle stiffness, and diminished local circulation.

Pain relief doesn’t stop with athletes or the elderly. Veterinarians have begun using Celluma as a post-operative treatment to speed up the recovery time in animals. With the use of red and infrared LEDs, the Mast and Neutrophil cells are stimulated, which will improve the body’s reaction to inflammation and fortify protection from harmful bacteria and infection.

If you are curious about what a treatment may be like, the answer is that it may vary, depending on your indication and budget. All treatments are 30 minutes long. They are completely painless, require zero recovery time, and are suitable for any skin type. The treatments involve the use of a flexible panel that can be wrapped or secured to target specific areas of the body. Many users find the treatment sessions to be comfortable and relaxing. Most indications involve the use of Celluma Light Therapy 2 or 3 times per week for 4 weeks.

The effects are cumulative. So, consider Celluma to be sort of like going to the gym, adhering to a diet, or taking vitamins. It is a commitment. In order to see results, you will have to complete the entire prescribed course. But hey, your wrinkles didn’t show up overnight, so you can’t really expect them to magically disappear after a single 30-minute treatment, right? With regular maintenance, you can adopt a self-care regimen that can preserve, protect, and regenerate your cells

Also, consider that preventative care may go a long way later in life. Think of your skin as a sheet of paper. When you crumple it up into a ball, sure, there are ways to un-crumple and flatten it out. Unfortunately, no matter what you do, some of those lines will always be visible. So, if you begin treatments before wrinkles begin to emerge, it is sort of like preventing the sheet of paper from ever getting balled up, to begin with. Prevention is easier than damage control, but both can have amazing results.

You may be wondering…

Does Celluma actually work?

We will leave you with the following statement from a collaborative study conducted by researchers at Boston’s Mass General Hospital, the Harvard School of Medicine and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health & Sciences in 2012:

“The day may not be far off when most homes will have a light source (most like a LED device) to be used for aches, pains, cuts, bruises, joints, and which can also be applied to the hair and even transcranially to the brain.”


When assessing pain, trauma, or injuries, Yoga Therapists are trained to ask a very different set of questions from any other kind of medical or wellness professional. This is because Yoga practitioners are trained to understand the connectedness between the mental, physical, and spiritual centers of a human being. Unlike standard Physical Therapy, a Yoga Therapist may find that an external physical ailment is actually caused by an internal energetic blockage or illness, due to their holistic approach in treating an injury. If this sounds too esoteric or far from your comfort zone, we urge you to keep an open mind. Yoga can change your life.

An Overview of Yoga Physical Therapy

According to Yogic philosophy, every single experience you have ever had is retained and imprinted within the fibers and tissues of your physicality. From a holistic standpoint, you are essentially a vessel, and energy travels through various paths within your body. The way in which it flows can be manipulated by how you move, how you breathe, and how you think. Yoga originated in India and many Eastern religions have a similar understanding of energy as the life force or vitality of a human being. In Chinese, the word for this is, “Chi.” In Japanese, it is “Ki.” In India (and in the Yoga discipline), the word is “Prana.” (“Prana” is also the word for breath, which in Yoga, is inherently linked to your life force.)

When the energy (or Prana) that is meant to flow freely through your vessel gets stuck, it manifests in physical ailments of the body. So, for example, in Western medicine, and in standard Physical Therapy, when someone has an injured hip, physiotherapy will likely involve targeting the muscles around the hip joint and mobilizing the joint itself. A doctor may prescribe pain medication or a steroid to combat inflammation. When a Yoga Therapist treats a hip injury, he or she will not only aim to mobilize the injured area with yoga poses (known as Asanas), but will also incorporate breathing and meditation exercises that target the hip and the second or Sacral Chakra. This is the home of one’s emotional self, sensuality, sexual relationships, and creativity.

Understanding the Chakras

A major difference in approach between Yoga and Physical Therapy is that a Yoga Therapist will likely treat a physical injury with sequential poses that target specific Chakras. Here is a fun fact: the word is pronounced “chah-krah,” not, “shah-krah,” as you will often hear in the Western world. “Shah-krah” actually translates to, “cucumber,” which would sound very silly in this sort of context. Imagine if your therapist came in and told you that today you would be doing a series of poses to treat your hip cucumber. Not exactly what you had in mind, right?

There are seven chakras within the human body. They are centers of energetic vibration, which cannot be shown anatomically but are aligned from the base of the spine through the crown of the head. When a Yoga Therapist moves a client through an Asana practice, they are helping that person to access and heal these pivotal centers, which are directly connected to the emotional and spiritual parts of their being. By intentionally breathing into and visualizing the release of these parts of ourselves, we are able to heal holistically, from an internal and universal space.

A Yoga Therapist will almost always say that for any physical ailment that a client may have, there is far more to the story. The story could be as direct and obvious as physical abuse or trauma. It could also be as esoteric as a car accident-related injury. In the latter case, the Yoga Therapist may conclude that the client got into an accident because he or she was rushing and has taken on too much. The remedy for the physical ailment may, therefore, involve releasing and healing energy in the solar plexus Chakra, which is where the ego lives and where we hold on to how we are perceived by others, especially in our careers and professions.

Make no mistake, however. Yoga Therapists are highly knowledgeable in anatomy and physiology. To even obtain the most basic yoga certification, one must undergo 200 hours of training and education. Typically, at least 50% of that is rooted in anatomy. Depending on the school or program, it could be much more. Yogis must have a comprehensive understanding of anatomy, injury prevention, and modifications for various medical indications (including but not limited to pregnancy).

The Health Benefits of Yoga

According to the CDC, yoga and meditation can help manage stress and can improve your memory. It also has many physical benefits, such as strengthening and toning of the muscles and improved flexibility. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are several other reasons to practice yoga, such as relief of menopause symptoms, management of anxiety disorders, clinical depression, or PTSD, and even weight loss.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy

While it may appear at first glance to mostly attract women, yoga was actually created by ancient Indian men. In fact, many of the poses (or Asanas) have been slightly adapted by Westerners to better suit the female body, given that the centers of gravity differ between genders. The benefits of yoga for men are plentiful. In addition to the aforementioned advantages, men may enjoy improved overall sexual function from a regular practice. Those who suffer from premature ejaculation (PE) may find that they have better control when adopting a consistent and habitual yoga routine into their lives.

The Western world is extremely plagued by a disconnect between body, mind, and spirit. When we ignore any of those major parts of ourselves, we become ill or injured. Yoga is a powerful practice and tool to unite the planes of human existence. The word yoga literally translates to “to join,” or “to unite.”

If you have never tried yoga because you have preconceived notions that it is just for flexible people, or only upper-middle-class housewives do it, or it is all too “woo woo crunchy granola,” think again. Yoga is for everybody and every body. It can be life-altering in the most positive of ways. Namaste.


From sports-related injury and congenital disabilities to age-related conditions, aches, and pains, the benefits of Physical Therapy are abundant. Because there are many indications and treatments within the field, most therapists have a practice rooted in a niche focus.

Modern Physical Therapy (PT) originated in Europe in the 19th Century and is rooted in massage and manual muscle manipulation. The practice made its way to the United States to help with the treatment of Polio. Patients were able to strengthen and use what was left of their declining musculature to accomplish functional mobility. With the success of the treatments, therapists were then trained to work with the military. Soldiers returning from WWI with battle wounds were rehabilitated. While their treated conditions were a result of fighting in the war (i.e., amputated limbs, spinal cord injuries, and head injuries), Physical Therapy began to find more common applications.

The United Nations stated that one-sixth of the global population suffers from neurological disorders. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that one in two adult Americans live with a musculoskeletal condition. That means that more than half of our adult population could potentially benefit from Physical Therapy!

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical Therapy (AKA Physiotherapy) is a healthcare treatment that helps patients maintain, improve, or increase functional mobility. Physical Therapists utilize a variety of techniques, instruments, and exercises to treat illnesses or injuries that prevent their patients from achieving a full range of motion or performing physical functions.

Types of Physical Therapy

Everyone is susceptible to enduring an injury, and most of us will lose at least some of our mobility as we age. Many people are born with or develop illnesses that affect their movement. All these factors contribute to the vastness and diversity within the field of PT. To better understand the many different types of treatments and exercises therein, the field can be broken down into five distinct areas of practice.

1. Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy:

Anyone who suffers from heart disease, heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, or asthma can benefit from cardiopulmonary physical therapy. Many stress- and anxiety-related mental disorders and trauma affect the respiratory system as well. Given the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) anticipates that these conditions are on the rise. Anyone suffering from hypo or hyperventilation can also benefit from cardiopulmonary therapy treatments. There is a range of exercises used by professionals in the field, many of which focus on expanding the patient’s lung capacity and endurance.

2. Geriatric Physical Therapy:

As we age, we become more vulnerable to conditions that affect our functional mobility. While not exclusive to the elderly, issues such as joint replacements, balance disorders, and arthritis are more common among the senior demographic. According to the CDC, an adult (age 65 and older) falls every second of every day. Specialized Geriatric PT can play an integral role in treating these conditions, restoring a patient’s ability to balance, and in providing our elderly population with the tools and treatments needed to increase mobility and reduce pain.

3. Neurological Physical Therapy:

Therapists in this niche specialize in treating patients who experience movement limitations due to injury or disease of the nervous system. Among the many indications commonly treated in this area of practice are Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, and brain or spinal cord injuries. Patients will often be given Physical Therapy exercises to improve arm, leg, and foot mobility.

4. Orthopedic Physical Therapy:

When we first hear the term, “Physical Therapy,” we most likely picture athletes who are rehabilitating after suffering from sports-related injuries. This widespread perception of the field falls under the category of Orthopedic PT. Professionals who specialize in this use various techniques such as endurance, resistance, and strength training, joint mobilization, and stretching to heal, preserve, and protect the musculoskeletal system.

5. Pediatric Physical Therapy:

This area of practice is focused around children (typically anyone under the age of 18.) Disabilities are often (and ideally) diagnosed in the early and developmental stages of childhood. The severity level can range from a child who misses or is delayed in achieving developmental milestones outlined by the World Health Organization, or one who suffers from a genetic disorder (such as Cerebral Palsy). Pediatric Physical Therapists also treat children who suffer from acute injuries, muscle diseases, and head trauma.

Benefits of Physical Therapy

The long list of PT benefits would be difficult to summarize in just a few paragraphs. In an ever-developing field that serves so many different parts of the population, the benefits are exceedingly abundant. Below are some of the most significant advantages, though the list is not exhaustive.

1. An Effective Alternative to Higher-Risk Options. Because Physical Therapy is an efficient way to manage or eliminate pain, it can potentially help a patient avoid surgery. Even if surgery is needed, routine treatments before an operation can strengthen the patient and reduce post-op recovery time, often lowering the overall cost of the procedure. In other cases, patients are prescribed addictive medications, such as opiates. Since PT can give a patient the necessary tools and exercises to manage and reduce pain, they may be prescribed a lower dose of medication or none at all. Many muscle groups, such as the lower back, respond very well to non-invasive treatments, rendering Physical Therapy exercises very effective.

2. Helps to Restore Functional Mobility. Physical Therapy exercises can help patients regain their full range of motion through techniques focused on stretching and strengthening their muscles. Whether injuries are related to sports, trauma, or age, PT greatly benefits the outcome of a movement-limiting injury. With one-on-one care and attention, a therapist can assess a patient and prescribe a customized plan to strengthen the necessary muscle groups and re-align or stabilize the skeletal and postural systems. With these processes combined, patients are often able to achieve restored functional mobility.

3. Helps in the Management of a Wide Variety of Medical Indications. Whether due to old age, congenital disabilities, or disease, Physical Therapy is used to treat an expansive range of conditions. Beyond those discussed earlier, many physical therapists are also qualified to treat Vertigo, concussions, urinary incontinence, and Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ). In many cases, PT is preventative of a medical condition getting worse, becoming intolerable, or completely debilitating a patient.

Quarantine Pains: Staying Active During Self-Isolation

More often than not, Physical Therapy involves a very personalized care plan. Due to the vastness of the field, there are therapists who specialize in specific areas of focus. It may take a bit of research to find the right match, but ultimately it will be worth it to find a professional who can customize a plan that meets your particular needs. The benefits of the practice can be preventative, preservative, or restorative.

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