21 Years and Counting!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Grab a glass of the bubbly and cheer because Northern is officially 21 years old this month! Have no fear, we’re not going to get all sentimental on you. Instead, we’re going to throw 21 years at you ... number-style.

So there you have it... 21 years of memories, good times, added benefits, and helping people feel great. We truly couldn't have accomplished all that without the help of our wonderful friends, patients, and physicians. Thank you for choosing to shop local and for supporting Northern for two-plus decades! Its been a fantastic ride and we're looking forward to many more decades to come!

Direct Access to PT is Now Available in Michigan

Monday, July 14, 2014
This article was originally published in the July 14, 2014 edition of the Coopersville Observer

Lower health care costs and a faster road to relief are finally in sight for Michigan residents. In early July the Direct Consumer Access Bill was passed after 34 years in the making. The bill allows consumers the option of seeking treatment directly from a physical therapist without having to gain a referral from their physician first.

“This is a huge day for patients and physical therapists alike,” said Gina Otterbein, a Physical Therapist and co-owner of Northern Physical Therapy, with offices located in Coopersville, Cedar Springs, Wayland, Grant, and Sparta. “Michigan is the last of the 50 states to pass this type of bill, now people in Michigan have the choice to go directly to a physical therapist which provides faster access, results and ultimately lower health care costs.” Otterbein notes that physicians (and physician assistants) will continue to refer to PT especially after surgeries or severe injuries, but now there is the option to see a PT directly for issues such as a sports injury, back flare up, knee pain or shoulder stiffness. The physical therapists will assess the client’s problem and develop a plan of exercise, manual therapy, education and other PT treatment to get the client back to life quickly and safely.

The bill, which was signed by Governor Rick Snyder was previously passed by the House of Representatives in June and by the Senate in May. It will officially go into effect on January 1, 2015 and will grant patients the opportunity to visit a physical therapist up to 10 times. Many Coopersville residents, along with Northern Physical Therapy supported this bill, “We appreciate everyone who supported this bill, both our community members and our legislators” said Otterbein. Northern shared information about the bill's progress through social and electronic media and the community responded. “It was truly amazing!”

Because the Michigan Physical Therapy Association (MPTA) has been working on the Direct Access plan for 34 years, they’ve seen many states ahead of them who have experienced significant advantages from the direct access route. Other states have shown a correlation between direct access and lower health care costs, faster recovery times, and a more positive relationships between the patient and the health care providers.

If you would like additional information on the Direct Consumer Access Bill, contact Gina Otterbein at 616-997-6172.

Michigan Stands Alone : SB690 Say Yes to Direct Access

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
We're asking for a big favor today, and it will greatly benefit both of us. Michigan is the only state that requires you to have a prescription to seek physical therapy, but with your help that could change.

We're generating a grassroots effort to get SB690 Say Yes to Direct Access passed. If you've already submitted your support to your local representative, thank you so much! Direct Consumer Access to Physical Therapy in Michigan means you get the freedom to seek physical therapy evaluation and treatment without a prescription from your doctor.

Please consider contacting your local representative to show your support by sending them an email at http://www.capwiz.com/mpta/home/.

We greatly appreciate your support!
Gina Otterbein, Janis Kemper,
& your friends at Northern PT

Family Friendly Health Event in Wayland

Sunday, May 04, 2014
    Join us on Tuesday, May 13, 6-7pm at our Wayland Clinic, 709 West Superior, Wayland, 269.792.4440

    This free, open house-style event will have various activities for kids and parents to participate in together. Four topics will be covered, including:
    Healthy Recipes
    Parents and kids will help us make healthy desserts, snacks, and lunches. We’ll have demonstrations to participate in, and lots of extras to sample!
    Fitness Tips
    Have fun and stay fit as a family! We’ll show you some great healthy activities that parents and kids can do together.
    Backpack Safety
    6000 kids are sent to the ER each year with backpack related injuries. Stop by with your child and their pack for a free fitting. It only takes 3-5 minutes and it’ll reduce your child’s risk of back pain.
    Bike and Helmet Safety
    Head injuries should not be taken lightly, and often occur while biking. In fact, bike helmets are so important that the U.S. government has created safety standards for them. If you’re not sure if your child’s helmet fits properly, stop by with your child and their helmet for a free assessment. 


Back Pain in Young Athletes and Football Players

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Avoid Back Injuries to Keep your Athlete on the Field
by Marcus Ribant, Coopersville School District Athletic Trainer

Because I work with students every day, I see firsthand the injuries that can occur as a result of participating in sporting activities. Low back pain is one of the most common injuries I see. In fact, low back pain occurs in up to 15% of young athletes. Back injuries are more common in sports like weightlifting, wrestling, soccer and you guessed it, football. Research shows that 25% of college football players have had a back injury during their playing career. Common youth football back injuries are stress fractures and muscle strains, but early intervention and treatment can assist in a quick recovery and return to participation. 
Symptoms of back injuries in athletes:
- Back pain usually starts as an ache and turns into constant or intermittent pain
- Pain is often in the lower or middle back
- Pain may radiate into the buttocks and thighs or even the toes
- Discomfort during impact activities such as running, jumping or moving
- Pain can increase with sitting in some, but not all, back injuries
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in hips, legs, and feet can also be a result of back injuries

Back pain and low back pain should always be addressed by a health care provider. I work not only with the students in the Coopersville school district, but also with athletes who come into Northern Physical Therapy. I can immediately assess those with back pain and begin treatment or offer referral suggestions. Treatment of low back injuries can vary dependent on the diagnosis. Initial treatment may include positional exercises to eliminate pain, ice, electric stimulation, medications, manual physical therapy, bracing, and exercises.

What causes back pain and back injuries?
Fractures of the low back known as Spondylolysis or Spondylolisthesis can occur from a single high energy impact or over time from repetitive hyper extension of the lumbar spine. Young athletes are at a higher risk of sustaining these injuries during periods of rapid growth in which muscles and ligaments are unable to keep pace with bone growth. This results in muscle imbalances and decreased flexibility leaving the athlete vulnerable to suffering a compressive force injury. Other factors that place athletes at risk of low back injuries include poor technique, weak abdominal musculature, and tight hip flexors and hamstrings. These factors combine to create an increase in lumbar lordosis, or anterior curvature of the lower spine, which ultimately lead to back pain or low back pain.
Athletes should start general strength and fitness programs several weeks prior to the start of the season. This will allow for the athlete to gradually increase the frequency and intensity of the program at a safe rate and develop proper form to protect the individual from potential injury. Fitness programs should also incorporate core-strengthening exercises and stretches for hip flexors and hamstrings to help reduce risk of injury. Always remember, proper technique and posture may be the biggest factor to preventing injuries and back pain, so be sure to get help from a trained professional. 

At Northern PT we believe, that prevention is the best strategy so your young athletes have a lower risk of hurting their backs.

Tips to reduce the chances of a back injury
- Strength, agility and weight training year around keep muscles strong and prepared
- Core exercises, often skipped by young athletes, including butt and ab exercises are essential in weight training
- Stretching hamstring and hip flexors, without arching or slouching the spine, will decrease strain on the spine. A 10 second stretch will just wake up the muscle, to really get that muscle to be more flexible it is best if the stretch is held for 1-2 minutes, 5x weekly
- Pre-season ramp up in intensity of strength, fitness and drills help muscles prepare for impact demands
- Proper technique for weight lift training will decrease low back pain risk
- Lift appropriate weights heavy enough to work the target muscle but not so heavy you arch or strain your back or cheat by using the wrong muscles
- Form is everything, it gets you stronger in the right muscles and keeps you safer

I'm happy to show you how to do these stretches and exercises, call me at 616.997.6172 with any questions!
Bronco Boot Camp is Back!
Northern Physical Therapy offers a Bronco Boot Camp (we also have one through our athletic trainer in the Cedar Springs school district). Our camp is offered each summer and focuses on increasing strength, flexibility, endurance and speed. Get more details or sign up here.

We want your young athlete to have a fun and safe season that is injury free. We hope these tips can help you encourage and support your athlete and to keep him or her on the field the entire season.

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.