This week I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Zach Ray, a sports certified, physical therapy specialist, with whom I have had the ultimate pleasure of working with since my ankle surgery in May.
Right from our very first meeting, Dr. Zach told me that he treats all people who walk into his “Live Athletics” facility like athletes, regardless of their ages or careers. That he is fully committed to getting his clients in and out of physical therapy and back to whatever they were doing prior to their injuries. Dr. Zach emphasized that his favorite part of his job is being connected to his client’s progress as they strive for and reach their personal goals and that being a witness to people's success, as they regain lost aspects of their lives, namely the transformation of immobility to mobility, is inspirational.
At my first session, Dr. Zach asked me what my dreams were and I answered, simply, "Jumping on the trampoline with my girls, once again, and hiking with my husband.
Zach's response, “Alright then, let’s get you there!”
The combination of Zach’s positive attitude, as well as the amazingly supportive vibe in his facility, has made the past months of grueling physical therapy become motivational stepping stones and defined benchmarks towards my best personal life and ultimate goals. I can’t wait to get back to where I wanna be!
Dr. Zach Ray was kind enough to share some amazing pro tips with me:
The Best Ways to Prevent Injuries:
- Control soft tissue tone - (muscle stiffness can be compared to plaque build-up on teeth - you don't want it!). Using a foam roller, *cupping, *muscle stimulation, and/or getting frequent massages can all help to prevent muscle stiffness.
- Work on establishing and maintaining core stability - stabilizing your core is crucial in protecting your lower back. Energy transfers from lower body to upper body so it’s important to work on core exercises on all edges. Great exercises for this are all different kinds of planks and “bird dogs” - lie down and begin the motion of opposite knee opposite hand to mimic walking, stabilize core and patterns go asymmetrical.
- Hip stability - as well as booty strengthening exercises, are extremely important, the energy will transfer while engaging these muscles and will help protect knees and ankles.
- Thoracic spine mobility - avoid spine stiffness and pain to the neck and lower back by maintaining proper posture i.e., don’t slouch your back.
- Scapular stabilization- The shoulder blade and rib cage is a joint when that joint is stable, the shoulder can function properly and avoid neck pain. You can do this by positioning yourself on your back and put both arms up towards the ceiling. Now make your right arm longer than your left arm, this activates the serratus anterior and stabilizes the scapula. To increase strength hold a light dumbbell.
*Cupping - a therapy in which heated glass cups are applied to the skin along the meridians of the body, creating suction as a way of stimulating the flow of energy.
* Muscle Stimulation - Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) or electromyostimulation, is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses. The impulses mimic the action potential that comes from the central nervous system, causing the muscles to contract.
Ways to deal with pain management at home:
- Heat - heating pads or warm baths/jacuzzis. Heat can be localized to the epicenter of pain.
- Soft tissue mobility - foam rolling, massage, cupping, muscle stimulation.
- Ice contrast - systemic icing, so if your lower back is bothering you, put your whole body into a cold pool, or if it’s your ankle emerge the whole leg. This is the most helpful way to use ice as a pain reducer.
Dr. Zach does not recommend using Advil or any other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs block the natural cascade of healing that occurs in your body when there is pain. Additionally, Advil and other NSAIDs are harsh on the liver and kidneys.
Dr. Zach recommends using Turmeric, Vitamin C, and Astaxanthin as anti-inflammatories. The only time to use pain relievers, according to Dr. Zach, would be at night, or when rest is necessary and you are in too much pain to sleep or rest. Since your body won’t heal without sleep, taking Tylenol may be necessary.
The final question to Dr. Zach:
Where do you hope the implementation of physical therapy in people's’ lives will be in the next 10 years?
Dr. Zach hopes that there are more points of entry for physical therapy, and the practice of going from Doctor to Doctor before insurance companies pay for physical therapy will be eliminated. He hopes that there is increased appreciation for patient's' prior level of functioning and that insurance companies recognize the positive effects physical therapy can provide.
Dr. Zach foresees a future in which physical therapy will be prescribed more often than bottled prescriptions for the treatment of physical ailments. He visualizes a time when a prescribed number of physical therapy visits will become objectively measured for patient recovery and, additionally, patients will be educated as to the why and how in the methodology and physiology of their personal physical therapy recovery paths. Consequently, patients will possess the motivation required to be on the fast track to unwavering recovery!