Back Pain

Physical Therapy is Changing Lives with Direct Access

Physical therapy

If you listen to your body it will often tell you exactly what it needs. Those back aches that you get after a long night’s sleep, or the shin pain you get every time you run – that’s your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. A quick and permanent fix would be ideal, but sometimes going to the doctor can be costly, and taking pain relievers every time the issue flares up isn’t ideal either.

When the state of Michigan passed the direct access law in 2015 it changed our business immensely. For the first time patients could decide how they wanted to handle their healthcare and could make the decision to utilize physical therapy with, or without, a referral. We were the last state in the country to allow direct access, and it was undoubtedly a huge step forward.

We see a number of direct access patients every day and the results speak for themselves. In these cases, we can bill your insurance or you can pay out of pocket. And the great thing is that many issues can be resolved in just a few visits (sometimes it only takes one visit.) Each of the testimonials featured below are from patients who came to us directly. We’re happy to share their success stories.

“I’ve always had issues with my back and had given up on healing my herniated disc. David worked with me and taught me exercises that gave me immediate relief for my back pain. He has not only healed my back, but has allowed me to do so much more than I ever thought possible. To sum up my experience with physical therapy in one word: life-changing.” – Kylee M., Cedar Springs Patient

“I can’t thank the Northern staff enough for going above & beyond my expectations. Several times their ability to be flexible & accommodate my schedule when necessary has been an absolute life saver. Without the knowledge & expertise to create a combination of treatments, I would not have the ability to return to my active lifestyle as quickly as I have.” – Kathy M., Comstock Park Patient

“Within just 2 weeks of physical therapy, my daughter’s pain is nearly gone. The staff there are my daughter’s favorite. Everyone is very positive and encouraging.” Wayland Patient

Physical Therapy in Allendale“I had a wonderful and productive experience! My physical therapist was a miracle worker. I had wrist pain which was preventing me from partaking in my consistent yoga practice. The PT identified the wrist pain as related to an issue with my neck. He gave me simple and direct instructions for recovery exercises. After following his recommended treatment plan my wrist healed quickly and I was back on the yoga mat without ever having set foot in a medical doctor’s office. I am so grateful and will definitely be back if I need help in the future.” – Tessa K., Lowell Patient

“I definitely recommend Northern Physical Therapy! The people that I worked with and the staff were amazing. They really took their time with me and had a way of explaining things so I always understood what was happening. They are all great and you’ll definitely be in good hands. I don’t have one bad thing to say, I give them 5 stars. Thank you Northern!” Luisa S., Cedar Springs Patient


If you’re experiencing aches and pains and you’re not sure where to turn, consider giving physical therapy a try. We offer free consultations with a physical therapist. You’ll meet one-on-one, talk about what’s bothering you and potential ways to treat the cause. Click here to sign up for a free consultation.

Tips to Reduce Tech Neck Pain

Tips to prevent text neck and tech neck pain

How often do you see your child hunched over their device, sporting poor posture and slouched shoulders with their head tilted forward? “Tech neck” symptoms are easy to spot on teens and kids, but adults are oftentimes just as bad. If you work on a computer all day, then spend time on your phone away from your desk, your posture is likely to be just as affected as your child’s.

As a parent today, I understand how much things have changed since I was a kid. I know, parents say that all the time, but it’s true. My childhood was spent outdoors, riding my bike and playing with friends. The technology in my house consisted of one TV that got four channels (which you had to get up to switch). The phone was something connected to the wall that had only one purpose, and that was to make calls – crazy, I know.

Today, a lot of kids have their own iPads at school, then many come home and ask to play games on their phones or tablets. According to Common Sense Media, the amount of time that kids spend on mobile devices each day is 10 times higher than it was eight years ago. Tech neck is wreaking havoc on their bodies, causing not only neck pain, but headaches, tingling, and eyesight issues.

Tips to prevent text neck and tech neck painWhat is tech neck?

Tech neck, also referred to as text neck, is when the shape of your spine changes due to bad posture, caused from spending hours looking down at a device, or slumped forward on a computer. Tech neck is easy to spot, simply look at a person from the side. Does their head tilt forward? Is there a lump at the base of their neck? Do their shoulders round forward? These are just a few telltale signs.

What are the symptoms of tech neck?
When you tilt your head forward just 45 degrees, your neck muscles are doing the work of lifting approximately 50 pounds. Headaches, neck pain or spasms, and shoulder pain are the most common complaints. Oftentimes people also have a hard time focusing or looking up after they’ve been looking down for a long time. In some cases a pinched nerve in your neck could cause feelings of numbness, tingling, neck pain, or weakness in your arms.

In severe cases, the muscles work so hard to hold your forward bending head up, they tighten, then put more pressure on the discs. This process makes the discs wear out faster, leading to a potential bulge or disc rupture. When a ruptured disc pinches a nerve it can cause severe pain, weakness, or numbness in the arm.

Tips to prevent text neck and tech neck pain

Tips to avoid tech neck pain

  • Practice Good Posture – Hunching over a computer all day or playing video games for hours on end almost guarantees a slouching posture, which is a major cause of tech neck pain and back pain. Trying to overcome bad posture might bring you back to your adolescent days when your mother always told you to sit up straight. We needed a reminder back then and we still need one today. Kids might respond to a quick sticky note that’s placed somewhere visible. A reminder for you might be a lumbar roll between your lower back and office chair.
  • Keep Devices at Eye Level – Tech neck pain is caused when you place your head at a forward position to look down at your device. Teach your child to hold their tablet or phone up so they’re looking straight at it at eye level – this will help reduce the pressure placed on the neck. Also, a monitor stand for your computer will help reduce neck pain. If you want to take things a step further, consider a standing desk, which has other health benefits due to the reduced amount of time sitting.
  • Limit Screen Time – Especially when it comes to kids, limit screen time and help them find a balance between the virtual and real world. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests no more than 2 hours per day of screen time for children over the age of 2. Kids needs to be active throughout the day.
  • Stretch – This is a quick and easy solution that you can use all day long. See our tips for stretching while at your desk. You should also get up and walk around once every hour that you’re at your desk. Encourage the same of your children if they’re spending extra time at the computer doing homework.

If your student (or you) are experiencing back, shoulder pain, or neck pain that you think may be associated with tech neck, schedule a free consultation with a physical therapist. You’ll have an opportunity to discuss what you’re experiencing and based on your symptoms we can recommend the next steps to alleviate your pain.

4 Simple Desk Stretches for the Entire Body

4 easy desk stretches

Do you spend a majority of your work days sitting in a chair? Many of us do, and while we know that sometimes we get back aches or sore muscles from sitting all day, we can’t always do much about it. Or can we? Read on to see our four simple desk stretches for your entire body.

Prolonged sitting can shorten your hamstrings and hip flexors, contribute to neck and low back pain, and even diminish core strength. Without frequent standing and walking breaks, we subject ourselves to a variety of postural changes and medical issues.

We’ve talked before about the negative effects that sitting can have on your body. Today we’re expanding on that and showing you four easy desk stretches to keep the body moving and feeling good throughout the day.

Here are a few tips and desk stretches for office workers

Proper Sitting Ergonomics
Your ankles should be in neutral with feet flat on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, hips bent at 90 degrees, trunk in neutral, shoulders in neutral, elbows bent at 90 degrees resting on armrests, wrists in neutral with keyboard directly underneath the hands, and monitor at eye level so your neck remains neutral and relaxed.

It’s recommended to take 5-10 minutes every hour to get up, stretch, and move your body.

As always, if these exercises increase your pain at all, or if they don’t improve your symptoms after a few days, you will probably benefit from a free evaluation with a physical therapist. You can request an appointment here and we’ll reach out to you to schedule.

Office Workers Guide to Stretching & Ergonomics

Video Recap with Desk Stretches
– Seated Hamstring Stretch :: To stretch legs and hamstrings
– Seated Thoracic Rotation Stretch :: To stretch mid section, spine, trunk, and core
– Upper Trapezius Stretch :: Loosen neck and shoulders
– Levator Scapulae Stretch :: Relieve and prevent neck pain

See our other workplace stretches here.

4 easy desk stretches

WorkFit Services For Every Industry
Our WorkFit team consults with businesses in the manufacturing, office, and manual labor setting. We offer the following services:
– Corporate Wellness :: Designed to lower employee healthcare costs and reduce sick days. Research has shown that corporate wellness ROI can average $2.71 for every $1 spent. That’s a great return on your investment.
– Functional Capacity Evaluation :: Benefiting employers and employees by assessing a person’s ability to perform their work-related activities, before or after an injury
– Rehabilitative Services :: Safely and smoothly returning to work after an injury
– Worksite Injury Prevention :: Repetitive stress injuries are the largest category of worker injuries, and they’re also the most preventable. We’ll show you how.

One Happy Ergonomic Client
“It’s been a rewarding experience partnering with Northern over the past several years. We initially started working with them to perform ergonomic assessments for employees in both the factory and office setting with great success but, we’re now expanding this program to promote overall good health. The NPT associates understand the mechanics of not only allowing the employee to function properly at work, but to take that knowledge and apply it to their home life and family members. It’s a win-win situation for us at BISSELL.” – Dave G., Manager – Safety & Security, BISSELL


Learn more about our WorkFit services and request a team training session, or schedule a free consultation with a physical therapist.