Trigger Point Dry Needling.

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I just spent a weekend in sunny Arizona.  I was inside the whole weekend!  Some of you may think think that is horrible.  But I was learning!  I am now certified to perform Dry Needling.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry Needling is a physical therapy technique to help reduce pain and other symptoms.  In dry needling, a physical therapist uses acupuncture needles to stimulate an immune response in a certain area. We start by inserting an acupuncture needle or needles around the trigger point, and then along the myotomal (nerves responsible for muscle contraction) and/or dermatomal (nerves responsible for sensation of pain) pattern toward the spine.  Needles may also be inserted at the spine. The action of these needles creates a lesion in the surrounding tissues, stimulating the body’s own immune response.  An increase in blood flow to the area results from the needling!

It is important to note that acupuncture and dry needling are different. Acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and has a focus on correcting Xi.  Dry Needling is based on scientific neurological principles.

Joel with Dry Needles

Joel with Dry Needles

Be sure to call and set up an appointment in either Redmond (425-883-9630) or Mercer Island (425-883-9631).  For further information check out Advantage PT on the Web!


Aquatic Physical Therapy

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We are excited to announce that we are now offering Aquatic Physical Therapy at our Mercer Islappostcard Aquaticnd location!!

We have access to a pool at our Mercer Island facility and there are many benefits to using the water for physical therapy.  The bouyancy of water decreases the amount of weight one puts through joints and applies compression from the outside.  With just these two properties of water, one can begin to bear weight through injured joints, and decrease inflamation.

Aquatic Therapy has been used for arthritic conditions, joint replacement and other orthopedic rehabilitation, sports injury rehabilitation, and low back pain.  All of these, and more, can benefit from physical therapy in the water by decreasing the amount of stress through the joint.

Treatment in the water can include, but is not limited too:

  • Range of motion exercises
  • Core strengthening and stability
  • Strength training
  • Endurance training
  • Gait training

There are so many benefits to being in the water for therapy:

  • Increased temperature in therapy pools can help to decrease inflamation and increase circulation inside the body.
  • The resistance applied by the water can change depeding on the depth of the water, so a treatment can be constantly varied to meet individuals needs
  • Studies show that the copmbination of warm water and bouyancy can decrease sensitivity to pain

To experience the benefits of Aquatic Physical Therapy, please contact Advantage Physical Therapy at 425-883-9631.

Physical Therapy Patients Return to Competition

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In a physical therapy practice, we see many types of injuries.  Some people want to return to pain free living and working, but others want to return to competitive athletics and/or aggressive fitness styles.  From runners to basketball players; tennis players to swimmers; and many others, the goal of physical therapy is to return to the sport they love.  In the last couple of years, crossfit has become the new competitive sport that a lot of people are joining up and doing.

Crossfit is a very strenous workout that stresses “functional movement.” It is widely thought of as an intense workout, but not many people know that there are local competitions.  Advantage PT has 2 clinics (Mercer Island, WA and Redmond, WA).  Working at the Mercer Island clinic, I see many athletes from the local Crossfit gym Mercer Island Crossfit. Recently a husband and wife team of former patients competeted at a local event called the Resolution Revolution 2. Stone Way Crossfit hosted the event for “couples” (any male/female partner).


These 2 patients were exceptional athletes, had some injuries, and became better athletes after following a program of physical therapy.  They were seen for different body parts, but the activies they do require multiple body parts.  Here are a few pictures from the event!

jared press (2) meg clean (2)meg du (2)

New Year, New You

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Two views of local Extension leaders drilling ...

Two views of local Extension leaders drilling in physical exercise in middies and bloomers, … (Photo credit: Cornell University Library)

It is a week into 2013.  We at Advantage PT are curious how everyone is doing.  Remember that getting back into the swing of things following the holiday period can be tough.  After being busy with family and all of the food and decreased time for staying in shape, we wanted to offer some pointers to get back into the swing of things.

This is a short list of ways to stay injury free as you return to your workout schedule:

  1. Pace Yourself – Don’t go too hard too fast
  2. Lighten Your Load – Take a few workouts to get your strength and stamina back to where it was
  3. Eat Well – Pay attention to what you are putting in your body.  The right foods will help you ease back into the workout routine
  4. Find a Friend – A friend can help encourage you to stay on track
  5. Set Goals – Studies show that written goals help you work to achieve them instead of just dropping them
  6. Track Your Progress – Keep a journal or use a phone app to keep track of your mileage or weights on each exercise
  7. Do Something You Enjoy – There are a ton of options out there.  Find one you like doing!!!

Maintaining your balance

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English: Vrksasana, the tree position, a Yoga ...

English: Vrksasana, the tree position, a Yoga posture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is balance an issue for you? You are not alone!

I see many patients with balance problems, and not all of them are using canes, walkers, wheelchairs, crutches, or other aides to keep them upright.  Some of them feel they are moving and balance just fine on their own.  And maybe that’s true.  But I find it much more common that someone creates a way to balance so there is no need to realize that balance is poor.

The leading reasons for poor balance are; hip weakness, poor core stability, ankle instability, and joint hyper/hypomobility.

By keeping the muscles and joints of the low back and lower extremities in good condition with exercise and movement, we can prevent developing balance problems later in life.

Did you know that by moving, you innately need some balance?  Walking and running are basically just alternating balancing on one foot as well as moving forward at the same time.

In order to keep your balance long into life, you can try these exercises to keep you upright.

Here is an exercise to practice your balance:

You can make this harder by adding a pillow under your foot or closing your eyes, or both!!!

This second exercise will strengthen your hips to help your balance:

Spinal Mobility

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Most of us know that as we age, it is important to keep moving.  Whether that is full on, hardcore exercise, or gentle walking is not important.  What is important is to keep every joint in the body mobile.  This includes not only the joints of the extremities:

  • Toes
  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Fingers
  • Wrists
  • Elbows
  • ShouldersThe lumbar region in regards to the rest of th...

But also the joints of the spine.  The spine consists of 7 cervical vertebrae each with 4 or more joints, 12 thoracic vertebrae with 6 or more joints and 5 lumbar vertebrae with 4 or more joints.  The spine has over 120 joints, which can tighten with bad posture, overuse, pregnancy, and/or poor technique with exercise.

We are trained as early as pre-school to sit still.  If you look at children today, most are hunched over a desk or table to learn (class), study (homework/library), eat, or play some sort of game.  This continues into adulthood as we tend to work at a desk or watch TV.  All of this time spent in one position can lead to degenerative changes in the joints of the spine.

We need to move.  Spinal mobility can be improved by standing up and moving around.  I recommend to my patients to get up at least once per hour and move around the office and do some back bends and neck rotation exercises to help keep the spine limber. (click here for some neck exercises)

When your spine is tight, it can lead to the muscles of the spine getting tight as well.  This muscle tightness can lead to back and/or neck pain, shoulder pain, and even headaches and TMJ (temporalmandibular joint) pain.

If you are concerned about back pain and joint mobility, your Physical Therapist can help design a program for you to stay mobile as well as provide manual therapy to increase joint mobility of the spine.

Are You at Risk for Shin Splints?


English: DEERWOOD, Md. (Feb. 7, 2009) Lt. j.g....

English: DEERWOOD, Md. (Feb. 7, 2009) Lt. j.g. Gina Shaw treats shin splints by wrapping her leg in ice after her 8 Kilometer run after competing in the 2009 Armed Forces Cross Country Championship. The women’s cross-country team finished second behind the Air Force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jhi L. Scott/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A common complaint among runners is Shin Splints.  In all honesty, this type of injury happens to more than just runners.  Anyone who has a mild to major increase in activity level is susceptible to shin splints. Shin splints (medically known as Medial Tibial Distress Syndrome) can limit the amount of activity a person can do.  If you have ever had shin splints before, you know exactly what I am talking about.  The pain is excruciating!  So now that the summer is coming to an end, maybe you are trying to increase your amount of activity before the clouds and storms come in representing the change in seasons.

Some factors that increase your risk to shin splints are:

  • Improper footwear
  • Overpronation of the foot/ankle
  • Muscular weakness
  • Muscular tightness
  • Decrease joint mobility
  • Poor training quality/form
  • High foot arches

I am sure that everyone can fit into this list in at least one category.  I know that I fit into at least two fo them.  Does that mean you will get shin splints?  No!  Does it mean you should address pain in the front of your lower leg (shin) if you have it?  Yes, of course!  Here are a few tips to help avoid shin splints

  • Try to stay on softer surfaces for running
  • Replace running shoes around 300-400 miles
  • Limit distance increases to 10% or less each week
  • Include lower impact activities (cycling, elliptical, rowing, swimming, etc.)
  • Stretch the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus)

If you do get shin splints, Advantage PT therapists can help get you back to full training faster!!  Email us with any questions (

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