Feeling Good At Work :: Office Ergonomics at Bissell


Friday, April 11, 2014

Coopersville Yoga Is A Hit


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Can knee injuries be prevented?


Monday, March 24, 2014
Imagine you're out enjoying your morning run, or maybe you're getting ready to catch that fly ball at the league softball game, when all of a sudden you're burdened with that nagging knee pain and it comes out of nowhere. Sure, it will pass eventually, but for now it could limit your mobility, and you weren't even participating in strenuous physical activity.

Unfortunately, knee pain can come along at any time, often with no warning. Even if it isn't something as difficult as an ACL tear, the nagging pain can really dampen your ability to enjoy running, shopping, kneeling in the garden, or playing with the kids. But was there anything you could have done to avoid this pain? Maybe so.
Ideally, everyone should regularly get 3 types of exercise to prevent injury to all parts of the body, including the knees:
  • Range-of-motion exercises will help maintain normal joint movement and relieve stiffness
  • Strengthening exercises will keep or increase muscle strength
  • Aerobic or endurance exercises (such as walking or swimming) will improve function of the heart and circulation and help control weight. Weight control can be important to people who have arthritis because extra weight puts pressure on many joints, including the knee.
To keep knee pain and other musculoskeletal pain at bay, it’s important to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle, exercise, get adequate rest, and eat healthy foods. It’s also important for runners and other athletes to perform physical therapist-approved stretching and warm-up exercises on a daily basis—especially before beginning physical activity.

But my knees get sore when I run. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?
One potential cause for knee pain is poor running technique. Poor shock absorption or inadequate leg strength may cause unnecessary stress on the knee, ultimately causing pain. Because running is a repetitive, high impact activity, it is vital to practice the proper form and to make sure that your muscle strength/endurance is evaluated. A professional, such as a physical therapist, can identify the issues that may be contributing to your symptoms and advise you on strategies to remedy the situation.
How do I learn proper technique?
Northern partners with Gazelle Sports to offer Good Form Running Clinics, where you will learn to improve your running technique to reduce your chances of injury and run faster. These clinics have been extremely popular in the past and have quickly filled up. Check our events page to find out when the next clinic will be offered.

The important thing to remember, is that you don't have to live with pain. Your body was designed to run like a well oiled machine - recurring pain is not normal, and can almost always be fixed with the proper diagnosis, exercises, and treatment plans. Physical therapy is a safe way to treat recurring pain and patients often avoid medications and surgery. If you're experiencing pain in your knees, or other parts of your body, give physical therapy a try...your body just might thank you.

New Yoga Class in Coopersville...Sign Up Today


Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Have you been wanting to give yoga a try? Do you wish there was a yoga class close to home?

If you're ready to stretch and flex those muscles join our new yoga class coming to Northern Physical Therapy, starting April 1!

The 8 week session, taught by yoga instructor Kristen Frilen, begins April 1 and will run each Tuesday through May 20 from 7:15-8:05pm. The cost is $7 per class, or $50 if you sign up for all 8 at once. Attendees should bring their own yoga mat. Class size is limited so stop by Northern Physical Therapy (25 Conran, Coopersville) or call us at 616.997.6172 to reserve your spot in advance.

We encourage yoga rookies and people with moderate yoga experience to attend. We anticipate that each student will arrive with different goals and needs so whether you're coming to get in shape or to clear the clutter from your mind, our instructor will work to meet the needs of each individual student through the various poses and flows.

We hope to see you there! Remember, just call us at 616.997.6172 to reserve your spot in the class.

Reduce Foot, Knee, and Low Back Pain with Custom Orthotics


Thursday, February 13, 2014
I like to run outdoors year round. Music pumping through my ear buds, I revel in the opportunity to be alone with my thoughts and forget about the stresses of work and life in general. Being in Michigan, weather conditions can be less than ideal at times, but the snow doesn't stop me. My sore shins, however, have stopped me dead in my tracks. That is, until I started using custom orthotics - not just for runners, but for me, they were a lifesaver.

If you think of your feet as shock absorbers for your body, you can imagine that even the smallest issue in your foot can lead to injury or pain up into your legs. Here's where the orthotics come in. These nifty support devices are inserts that go in your shoes and their purpose is to reduce stress by providing support for your feet. But, orthotics aren't just for foot pain - they help ankles, shins, and knees too, and they make standing, walking, and running more comfortable. From young runners and athletes to an aging population with joint pain, everyone can benefit from an orthotic to make whatever they're doing more comfortable.

Custom orthotics aren't just for tennis shoes, I have a pair for my shopping shoes too. Nothing slows down a good day of bargain hunting like sore feet!

Made by ankle & foot specialists, podiatrists, and physical therapists, the custom made orthotics provided by Northern include a variety of different styles, fits, and impressions. When we work with clients on custom orthotics we start by placing their foot in a box of foam to make an impression. We then take measurements and pictures of their lower body so we can send them to Biocorrect where the final details are added in their lab.

These are as custom as you can get, made just for your feet!

Not only is Biocorrect the best when it comes to custom foot orthotics, but they are also made locally, right here in Grand Rapids, MI. We're big fans of supporting local businesses, so this partnership is ideal. 

I recently had custom orthotics put in a new pair of amazingly cute, but not-so-comfortable high heels and now I can wear them all day at the clinic with no pain at all. The support is great!

Orthotics are helpful for pain throughout your body and ideal for multiple diagnoses. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, orthotics may be a great solution for you!
  • Plantar fasciitis or heel pain
  • Bunions, corns, or calluses
  • Foot & knee pain, ankle sprains & instability, or stress fractures
  • Low back pain or sacroiliac dysfunction
  • Low or high arches
  • Leg length variances, bowed legs, or knocked knees
  • Surgeries, sprains, or injuries
  • Pelvic alignment changes
  • Tendonitis of the foot, knee, or hip
  • Neuromas
  • Arthritic deformities
  • Weak or tight ankle, knee or hip musculature
Northern is a very active company with staff members at each of our five clinics regularly participating in sports and recreational activities including running, soccer, skiing, softball, and walking programs. Due to our active lifestyles, we understand the importance of taking care of our bodies from the ground up. We also work closely with area running stores, athletes of all ages, and people who suffer from pain in their feet, knees, low back, etc.

If you are interested in getting a pair of custom foot orthotics, call any of our five clinics and set up an appointment, or stop by one of our upcoming 20th anniversary open houses where we'll be offering fittings at 20% off.

Hands, Wrists, and Occupational Therapy


Monday, January 20, 2014
Think about how many times you use your hands every minute of the day. Now imagine if it was difficult for you to reach for a cup of coffee, use the computer, open a water bottle, or swing a hammer. These are just some of the many ways that we use our hands in everyday life, and if you think about it, there's not much we do that doesn't involve the use of our hands.  We often take our five fingered limbs for granted, until we injure them. It's only then that we realize how essential they are to our everyday lives. 
Occupational Therapists play a unique roll in rehabilitating hands, wrists and elbows that have been involved in amputations, burns, and surgical repairs of tendons and nerves. In addition, we treat patients who have conditions such as tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

With the proper treatment and tools, occupational therapy can help you adapt to life with your injury, and/or while it heals. Your rehabilitation will begin at your first visit and treatment is customized to match your unique goals and limitations. You may experience pain management techniques, exercises to restore strength, dexterity, and range of motion; techniques to eliminate swelling and scarring; and sensory re-training. 

As Occupation Therapists, our goal is always to ensure that our patient's rehabilitation process promotes healing while assisting in the ability to perform everyday activities. A positive outcome in our work together will result in an enhanced quality of life for our patients.

New Year's Resolutions :: Eating Right and Getting in Shape


Thursday, January 09, 2014
How many of you set a new year's resolution to lose weight, lead a healthier lifestyle, or get in shape? It's ok to admit that this year wasn't the first time you made that resolution. Sure, good intentions are always laid out but a month or two into the year you just might find yourself set back in your old ways. How about making this year different? Start off with a commitment to yourself and a positive change. 

If you think losing weight and eating healthy foods is easy, talk to Janis Kemper. She recently lost 80 pounds and feels better than ever. Two of the ways that Janis lost and kept the weight off involve exercise and eating right.

Jennifer Smits, Personal Chef, Fitness Trainer, and Author
Let's Eat!
You may think healthy cooking is expensive or time consuming, however, with some planning and understanding of food choices you can eat healthier. Learning to cook and prepare new things is a fun way to try out new recipes. And, your body will thank you when you feed it healthy foods! Learn all about this topic at our upcoming fun and educational event featuring Jennifer Smits - personal chef, fitness trainer, and author of the book "Simple and Delicious Gluten Free Dishes: Meals That Support Your Health and Fitness Goals". We're excited to welcome her to our Wayland clinic to share her expansive knowledge of healthy cooking with you! Our event takes place on Thursday, January 16 from 6-7pm. The event is free, but you must register in advance.

Let's Get In Shape!
If you're already off to a great start with your meal planning, the next step is getting in shape. Whether you're looking to increase your overall strength, tone your body, shed a few pounds, or just lead a healthier lifestyle, our personal fitness training is for you! When you work with one of our certified and licensed athletic trainers you'll get a personal fitness assessment along with an individualized plan created specifically for you and the goals you hope to achieve. You'll be able to work out on your own terms, and you'll have the opportunity to collaborate one-on-one with a professional who has your best interests in mind. This program is a fantastic way to kick off the new year. Get details here.

Eating right and getting in shape don't have to be a burden. With the right planning and execution, you can succeed at your goals. Let 2014 be your year!

A Personal Journey for Janis Kemper :: Weight Loss Success


Thursday, January 02, 2014
Weight loss isn't easy; it's hard work. No one knows this better than Janis Kemper, physical therapist and co-owner of NPT, who recently lost eighty pounds! We asked Janis some questions about what motivated her to take the proper steps to lose the weight and what she would recommend to others wishing to do the same.

What initially made you decide to change your lifestyle?
My health was declining. I had high blood pressure (requiring two medications to control), borderline Type II Diabetes, Fatty Liver Disease, and Sleep Apnea. My husband and kids told me they were worried about my health and I decided that I wanted to see my future grandchildren grow up. Making the decision was the toughest part!
What did you do to lose the weight?
I talked to my doctor who agreed that I needed to change my lifestyle. He recommended that I see a physician who specializes in Weight Loss Management. There are many tools available to people wanting to lose weight. My doctor and I decided I should try the VLCD (very low calorie diet). Essentially, for five months I ate between 800-900 calories per day. This was done with “product food” to ensure the proper balance between protein, carbs, and fat. To be on a diet with so few calories required weekly physician visits and bi-weekly blood work. The other components of the program are exercise (60 minutes per day at least five days per week) and weekly attendance to a support group. The support group was educational and led by nutritionists, behaviorists, and exercise physiologists. After the five month period there was a five-week transition back to regular food and a calorie intake of about 1200 calories per day.

How much weight have you lost?
I’m so proud of my success! I was able to lose and keep off 80 lbs. I was a size 18/20 and now I am a size 10.
What was the hardest part of your journey?
I always thought, “If I could just lose the weight, then I will be good.” Well that isn’t true. I have come to realize that maintaining my weight and changing my lifestyle has proven my biggest challenge. I have accepted the fact that I use food as a coping mechanism. Similar to an alcoholic, a drug user, a gambler, etc., I use food. When I’m happy I like to celebrate with food and drink, when I’m stressed I use chocolate to cope, the list goes on and on. I have the disease of obesity but right now I am managing it well.

What kept you motivated throughout the process?
There were days that I would have a pity party for myself. I would ask, “Why do I have to spend two hours a day to maintain my weight and be healthy?” and “Why do I have to think about every morsel I put in my mouth?” Then I realized how fortunate I was to be able to exercise, and eat healthily. I chose to focus on the positives of the weight loss like being able to wear regular size clothing and not plus-sized, being active without getting out of breath, and not having to take any obesity related medications (my blood pressure is now normal, I no longer have a fatty liver, I no longer have sleep apnea, and I have normal blood sugar levels). I think that there are many things that keep me going including a very supportive husband who motivates me, attending support group regularly, and awesome co-workers who challenge me to stay fit!

What advice would you give to others who may be thinking about changing their lifestyle?
Make the decision and then do it. Don’t attempt to do it alone, get help. The program I went through was Grand Health Partners. It was so motivating, that we decided to launch a personal fitness training program at Northern. We have certified and licensed Athletic Trainers who are equipped to work one on one with people who want to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. The program will launch this month! Contact one of our clinics to get more information.
What would you say to those who are in the process of losing weight, but are struggling with reaching their goal?
Find support! Challenge yourself with a new workout video, class or routine. Try keeping a food journal and see if extra calories might be sneaking in. Eat protein at every meal, and eat six small meals a day. Use a smaller dinner plate. Weigh and measure your food - it’s surprising how 4 ounces creeps up to 6 ounces! Educate yourself on how to cook healthy. NPT is hosting a healthy cooking seminar at our Wayland location on January 16th from 6:00-7:00pm. It’s free and you can register at www.northernpts.com/rsvp.

For the first time in decades, obesity rates in America are on the decline. Recent government data showed that obesity among U.S. adults is continuing to level off after several decades of skyrocketing growth. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but it’s likely due to awareness and better information. Although this is good news, 34.9% of Americans in 2012 were still obese. Medical professionals all agree: sustaining a healthier weight is critical to improving blood sugar, blood pressure, and lipid control levels as well as gaining better mobility and improved moods. I’m living proof that you can lose weight and achieve a healthier lifestyle. More and more people are making the choice to not allow the disease of obesity to control their health and happiness, and with the right tools you can be one of them!

Mentoring PT Students to Help Them Grow


Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Mentoring students and working with Grand Valley State University's (GVSU) physical therapy program is something that has always been near and dear to us. A majority of our therapists are graduates of GVSU's PT program so we know first hand how excellent their curriculum is. Physical Therapists Janis Kemper and Gina Otterbein, (who are also NPT's owners) are both graduates of the program, and they have continued to build their relationship with GVSU by being guest lectors for the physical therapy program, conducting clinical interviews, and by assisting students with interviewing, resume writing, leadership, and management.

At Northern, it's not uncommon for a majority of our interns to be GVSU students. We enjoy the opportunity to offer them excellent, real life experience, and help them grow. It's rewarding to us as an organization when a recent graduate selects Northern as their first choice when looking for a job in our industry. When we see an all-star student come our way, our veteran staff members welcome the opportunity to hire them on as a staff therapist upon graduation. One of our most recent hires is Corey Kuipers, who spent a great deal of time with Northern as a student. Corey showed a great desire to learn, helped patients to the best of his ability, and was a top notch team player. We were pleased to have him back full time. 

"Northern Physical Therapy is such a great company to work for. When I was completing my Bachelor’s Degree, I worked for Northern from 2009-2011 as a patient care specialist. This was a great opportunity for me because I was able to learn the ins and outs of physical therapy. In addition, I was able to learn about the values and principles related to patient care. After completing my Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree, I returned to Northern as a Physical Therapist. The reasons are many, but the most important reason is that the staff at Northern works as a team and is interactive with the community it serves. I also really enjoy the patients that I get to interact with on a daily basis. Northern Physical Therapy is a great place to work!"
Corey Kuipers, Physical Therapist at Northern Physical Therapy

We would also like to introduce you to our three current interns, who are all students at GVSU. Stop by and say hello to them if you are in the area!


Emily Bougher, Melissa Fisher, Bridget Martz

Emily Bougher, Northern Physical Therapy Intern
Being able to help people learn to live healthier lives is what originally drew me to the field of physical therapy. I am a senior in the Honors College at GVSU, studying exercise science. I hope to continue my education at GVSU by being admitted to the physical therapy program for the fall 2014 semester. I am originally from the small town of Chelsea, MI, where I was able to develop my love of exercise by playing sports from a young age through high school. I danced, played volleyball, and ran hurdles for the track team. When I’m not busy studying or working, I enjoy reading novels, running, lifting weights, and crafting. 

Melissa Fisher, Northern Physical Therapy Intern
Originally from Osceola, Indiana, I came to Michigan to attend college, where I am currently studying Clinical Exercise Science at GVSU. Upon graduation I plan to attend grad school at GVSU to get my degree in physical therapy.

Bridget Martz, Northern Physical Therapy Intern
Currently a senior at GVSU, I will soon be graduating with a degree in Clinical Exercise Science, however, I plan to continue my education by obtaining a graduate degree through GVSU's physical therapy program. In addition to my interests in physical therapy, I was a figure skater for seven years and am currently a member of Phi Sigma Sigma.  

West Michigan Woman Welcomes Northern Yet Again


Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Gina and Janis have become regular contributors at West Michigan Woman, both in their print and online publications. They've taken this opportunity to educate readers on various topic of interest and things they commonly see in the clinics.
Most recently, they discussed balance and falls and how those symptoms can affect us as we age.

Seeing our loved ones age can be a difficult process. We want what’s best for our parents and grandparents, and as their health changes it’s not uncommon to worry about their safety. A serious side effect that we, as physical therapists, often see with aging is the increased risk of falling and loss of balance.
Read the article in its entirety here.
In addition to the balance and falls article, you may have also seen their article on back pain. Back pain is one of the most common issues that patients face, but the goods news is, you don't have to live with pain.

We often get patients in the clinic who explain their back pain, along with a lengthy description of the different treatments, surgeries, and medications they’ve encountered along the way. “Nothing worked. I’m hoping you can help me,” they say. Physical therapy is a safe alternative to surgery and medication, and it can help you live pain-free: Our goal is not just to mask the pain, but to find the cause and treat it.
Read the article in its entirety here.

And finally, Gina and Janis spent some time this summer discussing whether to heat or ice an injury. There is often confusion as to which method is better for your injury.

One of the most common questions we get is whether to use heat or ice for an injury. Both are beneficial when used properly, but the best option depends on what type of injury you’ve incurred.
Read the entire article here.
Gina and Janis enjoy the opportunity to educate people on proper body mechanics and practices. They always remind people that you don't have to live with pain.