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Older Patients Getting Fit with Staying Safe with Guided Exercises
I had worked with Beth Elder as a personal trainer in the past and have had the pleasure of reconnecting with her at Advance Physical Therapy. At this location we've worked on both personal training and Pilates instruction. She is phenomenal. As an older woman, I need someone who can recognize my limitations and give me guidance on how to best achieve my goals. Beth never fails to come up with safe, effective and challenging exercises for me that I can actually DO! And in the process she is my personal cheerleader, always pointing out the positive and helping me be less hard on myself. My ability to work on my strength, balance and conditioning are (and have always been) directly related to whether I am working with Beth. She always makes me a stronger person!
Beth Elder: Treasure of the Triangle!
The Triangle has many hidden treasures - one of the is Beth Elder,
Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor, ChiWalking & ChiRunning
certified. Beth works with the sophisticated and successful Postural
Restoration elements at Advance Physical Therapy next to Whole Foods
in Chapel Hill.
Beth’s training sessions and classes are highly effective and a
great pleasure: both at the same time. Beth combines a wonderful
sense of humor with flawless and clear instruction. It continues to
be an excellent experience to access my whole body’s strength and
Neck Pain, Back Pain, and Hip Pain. . .
“After over 25 years of chronic neck, back and hip pain, I had not considered the possibility that there was a therapeutic course left that could address any of these issues. My quality of life had been significantly altered as my symptoms worsened through the years. I had been to both traditional and non- traditional practitioners in many cities that could only provide a temporary fix – and not to all aspects simultaneously.
Through Postural Restoration I have truly received a “lifeline”. As a result of the very personalized program designed to address my specific and changing needs, I have achieved a level of physical comfort and stability that I couldn’t have imagined was possible. Through this therapy I have been taught an awareness of what has created the problems, why a particular approach should be taken and how to be an active participant in resolving my pain. Through Advance Physical Therapy and Holistic Health, I have been provided with pain resolution, maintenance of issues and a program for strengthening and gaining back the active lifestyle I had.
I am so thankful that I am now able to resume activities which I would not have considered undertaking just a short time ago. I cannot speak highly enough about the results I have achieved, and am very grateful for, through Postural Restoration.”
Could not walk without severe pain…
I could not walk without severe pain radiating from my hip into severe knee pain when I started at Advance Physical Therapy. I was accurately diagnosed and started on a progressive treatment plan which resolved my pain. More important, my therapist (Jean Masse) took the time to help me develop and ongoing plan to maintain my newly found pain-free lifestyle. In the past, other physical therapists have helped me resolve my pain, but they did not assist me in developing a strategy to stay pain free. Advance Physical Therapy was an amazing experience for me.
“When I was 14 years old in 2006 my family and I found out that I had scoliosis. It means my spine is curved. It is sure that all spines have curves, however when there are abnormal side-to-side curves in the spine, it is called scoliosis. I learned that a curve is considered bad if it is greater than 25 to 30 degrees. My doctor said my curve was 37 degrees and recommended using a brace while sleeping. He also informed us that 45 degree is a critical degree for a surgery.
After knowing a brace and surgery are all treatments in a hospital, my mother started researching about scoliosis. She wanted to know any treatment for my scoliosis. My mom took me to chiropractic and physical therapy. We chose to keep going with physical therapy because we believed that it would be better to make the muscles stronger, instead of cracking my bones in place. The stronger muscles will finally push my spine and straighten it.
For half of a year I had used a brace while sleeping, and I had done special Postural Restoration exercises taught by my physical therapist. However, in April 2007 my curve turned out 42 degrees. My doctor warned my family and me if the curvature exceeded 45 degrees at the next visit, we would need to seriously consider a surgery. He said he would put metal rods next to my spine to straighten it in an operation.
My mom, my physical therapist, and I discussed about this situation and decided to try hard one more time. Three of us have worked hard together and especially my physical therapist has been wonderful. She has kept encouraging me and has been cautious about my situation. She always helped me.
Finally, I took an x-ray again at my hospital in September 2007, and my curve was 29 degree. It was even better than my first degree (37 degree). The option of the surgery was out of topic. My doctor came to measure the curve of my spine again and again because it was not normal. Usually the curve tends to go worse and worse. He said the measurement of truncation is also better. He finally concluded the brace worked very well. However, we don’t think so. The exercises taught by my physical therapist have worked well for me.”
Scoliosis. . .
” I must admit, that I was more than a little skeptical of postural restoration when I first heard about it. I had heard claims of non-surgical ways of arresting the progress of scoliosis, but frankly didn’t believe these claims. My orthopedist had only told me about very invasive surgical correction for my progressing scoliosis. He believed the condition of my spine was responsible for the shoulder, hip, and back pain that had visited me intermittently for many years.
One day, a friend, whose advice I respect greatly, referred me to Advance Physical Therapy. Because I didn’t want to take time from work and assume the risks associated with surgery, I decided to give it a try. Also, I work hard at my daily fitness program, and was afraid surgery would temporarily, if not permanently, affect my ability to reap the rewards of such a program.
My physical therapist graduated me through many very unusual exercises, which I did twice a day for a year. At first I was still skeptical, as these were very different from exercises I had been given by other physical therapists. However, my pain began to subside quickly, so I continued with the program. Now, not only am I pain free, but x-rays performed by my orthopedist show no progression over the past year.
I highly recommend postural restoration, especially to any one who is considering surgery to correct posture-related discomfort.”
Chronic Pain and Postural Restoration…
“Thirty plus years of chronic pain. Surgeries that made things worse. Fibromyalgia. Physical therapists either helped very little or exacerbated two things while trying to fix a third thing. I spent a year with a hypnotherapist trying to achieve pain control with no success. I took Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction classes trying to accept pain with… well, mindfulness. No good. None of it any good.
I was not particularly hopeful about postural restoration.
My daughter, who lives on the other side of the country, told me about this fairly new thing and suggested I find someone locally. I really dragged my heels. I was recovering from heart surgery and had never fully recovered from back surgery. The exercises prescribed for strengthening my heart were playing merry hell with my sciatica. My life was revolving around pain day and night and I wasn’t having any fun, nope, none at all.
On top of the pain, I had come out of heart surgery with a partially paralyzed diaphragm. Exercise not only was painful but I could barely breathe.
I tried Google, searching ‘postural restoration’ and found a place in nearby Chapel Hill. I put off calling. My daughter nagged. She had heard more good things. Okay, okay, I finally made an appointment.
Then I met the therapist of Advance Physical Therapy. She listened patiently as I listed all my ailments and explained to her why she couldn’t possibly help me. “Let’s just try this.” she said. As she measured and evaluated the movement of my limbs, she explained how Postural Restoration works. I was not fully convinced but made two more appointments to come back.
It has been about six months now. I walk without a limp. I climb stairs upright instead of hauling myself up hand over hand using the railing. I walk down stairs casually and without fear of falling. I go for long spells without thinking of pain every minute instead if pain constantly pushing all other thoughts away. I still have sciatica, but it is no longer the most controlling factor in my life. Now I can sit at a table and enjoy meals with my friends and family or watch an entire movie without having to get up and walk around the lobby to ease pain in my leg and back. I’ve come a long way from spending days in bed because it was too painful to sit or stand or walk.
Postural Restoration is working for me. I’ve learned a different way of standing and sitting and do a few simple exercises each day. A great depth of thought and understanding of the body and how all its parts work together are behind this. Not everything we’ve tried has worked, it’s true. But every body is different and every time something does not work it gives the therapist new information and we are able to go on. I’ve come to appointments saying I was in too much pain to do anything and she listens carefully and says, “Let’s just try this.” And usually by the time I leave the clinic I am in much less pain – even feeling pretty darn good. After 30 years, ‘good’ is something I never thought I’d ever feel again. “
Knee Pain …
“My experience at Advance Physical Therapy has been excellent. The decision to consult there was one of the best I’ve ever made for myself. The therapist listened to me and evaluated my walk in ways no other health professional ever has. While the work to correct my gait is very hard work, I have much less pain when walking, a better appreciation for how my body works, and greater ease in the activities of daily life.”
Postural Restoration Exercises…
I have to say that I think Advance Physical Therapy, with the Postural Restoration approach, is fabulous. I have had many body workers over the years, but at Advance Physical Therapy they have the tools to help me get to the fundamental problems unlike Rolfing or Yoga or continuum or chiropractic ever did. The exercises are hard, but I do them every day – even weekends! – because I can feel that they are helping so much.
The constant pain I was having is much improved, although it is easy enough to set things off still. Sometimes, if I don’t quite have an exercise down correctly, I can aggravate the problem, but the therapist always seems to figure out what I am doing wrong and helps me correct it.
I never dreamed that it would take this much work and time to deal with this situation, but I am thrilled to be on the path of restoration. I think I would have been running into some big trouble down the road had I not found such a skilled and knowledgeable therapist to help me with this. They have helped me to better understand the mechanics of my problem, which only heightens my consciousness about it and enables me to be more aware of how I move in the world. This is a good thing!
61 Year Old Female with Scoliosis
I have been working with Susan Henning since the autumn of 2010. I am a 61 year old female whose scoliosis was diagnosed at the age of ten during a pediatric check up. I was most fortunate to avoid back surgery since my spinal growth stopped at about twelve years old. I was left with an “S” curve, left lumbar and right thoracic in good balance. Throughout my life, I have been inconsistently active, especially with regard to exercise because of my repetitive crash and burn pattern. Just as I would achieve some level of tone, strength, and cardiovascular conditioning, my back or a leg, or hip would start hurting, become inflamed and I would stop all activity in order to heal. My healing processes required months, despite whatever relief modalities I used. These included anti-inflammatory, over the counter and some prescription medications, icing, bandaging, bracing, physical therapy, deep tissue massage, energy work. Ultimately I spent more time not doing anything than doing.
My first contact with a Postural Restoration (PR) therapist was different. The therapist actually knew how to diagnose what type of scoliosis I had through a simple movement pattern. All previous therapist nodded their heads, they knew scoliosis, they understood it was quite asymmetrical and then proceeded to have me do activities that were symmetrical. If each side of the body of a person with scoliosis is different, then the symmetrical exercise will overload one side due to the opposite side’s inability to perform comparably. All the years of running, using treadmills or elliptical machines, or free weights or home gyms required bilateral activities that inevitably overloaded my “good” side and then the pain would start.
My PR therapists have understood what parts of my body need to be built up. The process has been quite slow. I came into this new approach over four years ago with a curve that was progressing to 60 degrees. I had experienced a pinched nerve, was feeling tingling in my rib hump, left side and have been struggling with right leg pain due to a tilted pelvis. The pinched nerve has not recurred, the rib tingling is completely gone and gradually I am building to muscle tone to correct the pelvic tilt. Most importantly, I am able to walk again! I was always a walker, able to go for and hour or more on weekends. I stopped walking about five years ago and have been attempting to return to a consistent practice. I am seeing real hope for the first time in many, many years.
Susan Henning is the finest therapist I have had in my life. Not only does she listen, she is passionate about my improvement. What I see in PR is the capacity to troubleshoot effectively. If I am having pain when I come in to a session, Susan carefully assesses my neutrality and can always figure how I am out of alignment and then get me back into alignment. When I leave that session, I know exactly what exercise I need to do to either maintain alignment or restore it.
Through Postural Restoration I have received an education about my body, its compensations, weaknesses and am learning little by little how to reconnect and rebuild neurologically and muscularly. I am learning how to hold myself differently, whether standing, sitting or sleeping. For the first time, many of my back and belly muscles are starting to move with breathing and regaining some tone. I have to be diligent. If I let too many days go by without my core group of exercise, then old pain and scoliotic postures resurface once more. I would not and could not be where I am today without the PR therapist I have. At this point in time, I see myself continuing to increase my strength and capability because of the work Susan and I are doing together.
Scoliosis and Schroth Method of Exercises
C (13 yr old female) had a scoliosis upper curve of 51 degrees and lower one of 45 degrees in Jan 2013. Two top Ortho surgeons in Raleigh both recommended surgery ASAP. We felt that surgery for our 13 yr old should be the last resort. After much research, and a trip to the Northeast with a Schroth trained therapist, we decided to try intensive PT for C. We were excited that 2 therapists at Advance Physical Therapy in Chapel Hill became certified in the Schroth Method. C has been seeing Susan Henning since last May. Susan is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, encouraging, supportive, compassionate, dedicated to helping in many ways and always positive in guiding patients. C loves to go to see her for therapy! The fantastic news is that her recent x-ray – Aug ’13 showed the upper curve improved by decreasing down to 40 degrees and her lower curve to 35 degrees . C will continue to go and anticipates her scoliosis curves decreasing even more in the next few months! We are extremely pleased with the professional and caring treatment C has received each time at Advanced Physical Therapy. We highly recommend this practice and the Schroth based method of PT that they offer.
Orthopedic specialist was very surprised to see such an improvement (in x-rays) in a very short period of time…..
Mrs. Susan Henning at Advance Physical Therapy (Chapel Hill) is an outstanding professional. It is very rare these days to find such a dedicated health care provider who truly cares about well being of the patient. She is very knowledgeable in physical therapy, understands the important aspects of health issues and finds the way to successfully apply correct exercise based on patient’s individual needs. The results after Mrs. Henning’s therapy sessions showed a significant improvement on the x-rays. Orthopedic specialist was very surprised to see such an improvement in a very short period of time (10 sessions). I am driving 2 hour 45 minute to see Mrs. Henning for therapy and the time spent on the road worth every minute of each session! Besides her professionalism, Mrs. Henning is a very pleasant person, softly spoken, with great communication skills with patients. She spends extra time if needed to make sure that patient understands all the steps of the exercise. I was seeing many therapists before, but I can’t even compare Mrs. Henning’s level of professionalism to others. Staff at Advance Physical Therapy is very welcoming, and sends reminders on time for follow up appointments. Office is very cozy, relaxed and clean. I highly recommend Mrs. Henning to anyone for physical therapy, Schroth method, and postural restoration. She is the best Physical Therapist anyone can wish for.
I got the Chi Running thing!
Monday is my Day Off, so I went for a run around the Carolina North Forest, two days after our (Chi Running) class on June 3.
I got it! I got the Chi Running thing! I would hesitate really even to call it "running". it was more like bobbing in place and somehow also going forward. I went an extra three miles because the running felt so good. And when I tried picking up the speed by leaning forward/letting my feet kick out behind me further, it felt great, like my body was doing something it should, like it felt like what I saw great runners doing. I ran hills entirely with my arms and changed nothing with my legs: that was a a huge change.
Incidentally, I have been running distance since I was 10; I have always had a strong toe push-off (which put me at a disadvantage in cross country when running through rain and mud); I was nationally ranked in cross country for a brief moment when I was 16. After years away from running, I started training again in the 2000's and in 2010 just got under a 90 minute half-marathon. And then....I tore my achilles tendon after a hard 14 mile run followed by 4 hours of walking around Manhattan.
I feel like I have been hobbled ever since, but Chi Running gives me new hope. Maybe I can run again...with joy? But it's unlike any kind of running I have ever done before: it's just bobbing place and somehow also moving forward.
Robert Fruehwirth - Chapel Hill
I wanted to say thank you again for the workshops. I really liked and enjoyed the sessions. I think that the chi running methods you taught in terms of breathing, how to move arms and legs, the body angles, and so on, really make sense in the light of running efficiently without unnecessary waste of the energy and injury possibilities.
More than anything, you are such a great instructor that can explain well each posture and why it is better than other postures. You didn't try to exaggerate the benefits of chi running at all. I liked your comments for each of us when you observe our running form in the practice time after each discussion, which helped me correct my own strange habits. Plus, I liked you to allow us to share what we think and feel like, by which I could learn a lot from others. Lastly, the sessions were really fun!!
I am sure the two sessions with you will have a huge impact on my lifetime running, even though I am not an awesome or marathon runner. I have been trying to get used to the entire form by combining each posture. I will update you about my experience with Chi running later!
Ju Hyun Kim - Chapel Hill
Physical Therapy For Breathing Problems
I contacted Advance Physical Therapy, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in April of 2015 because I was experiencing (breathing problems) shortness of breath during normal activities and also during the night. The receptionist, Deana, arranged for me to meet with Dr. Jean Massé later that month for an evaluation and recommendations.
My initial appointment with Dr. Massé resulted in a thorough evaluation, a discussion of my concerns and a treatment plan. Because of the distance from my home to Chapel Hill, it was agreed that I would meet with Dr. Massé on a monthly basis for two hour visits.
I found Dr. Massé to be sensitive to my physical therapy needs and skillful in her approach. She seemed to know just when to encourage me as I learned the various exercises she had recommended and when to suggest specific areas where I might improve. She was professional and knowledgeable in her approach. As a result, a relaxed and productive learning experience was established from the start.
I also appreciated receiving timely and helpful emails from Deana, reminding me of dates and times of upcoming appointments.
My physical therapy lasted nine months. During that period my breathing became more efficient during normal daily activities. The nighttime shortness of breath (breathing problems) disappeared altogether.
I am well pleased with my experience at Advance Physical Therapy. I would highly recommend Dr. Massé to anyone in need of competent, professional, compassionate physical therapy services.
Physical Therapy After Hip Replacement
I had hip replacement at the end of the year, and after a month with Nancy Toole, PT my hip was stronger than it has been in years. Every session with Nancy challenged me to work harder and smarter as she targeted all the core muscles surrounding my repaired hip.
Her positive, pleasant demeanor contributed to y looking forward to our sessions. When I left the sessions, I was given a new, specifically targeted set of exercises that helped me continue to improve both my strength and my flexibility.
Personalized Attention After Shoulder Surgery
My experience at Advance Physical Therapy was not only healthy but very pleasant. The personalized attention that I received (after shoulder surgery) helped me greatly to recover in the time frames set. This personalized attention makes a difference from other places where I received therapy and medical care. Professionalism, knowledge and human sensitivity are the most conspicuous attributes that identify Nancy Toole. Nancy not only is limited to fulfill routines of physical movements; but gives a personalized attention to patients. During my therapy sessions, Nancy taught me to breathe properly and correct postures for a recuperation of my health. Nancy reflects clearly what it means “love to others”. She seeks that her patients recover their health in a disciplined manner, helping us to understand how to address areas for recovery.
Adult Manages Scoliosis and Kyphosis
I have a smaller thoracic curve and kyphosis as well. I have tried different physical therapists, acupuncture, massage and exercise but nothing worked for the pain I was experiencing or the progression of my curve. I felt helpless knowing that a very extensive surgery might be the only possible way to deal with this issue.
I had done some extensive research and found Schroth Therapy. I traveled from North Carolina to New York City to work with a therapist at the Hospital for Special Surgery Spine Clinic. After continued research I discovered Advance Physical Therapy in Chapel Hill , NC. Although I live two and a half hours away from this facility, Advance Physical Therapy had the only certified Schroth Therapists in the state of North Carolina.
Meeting Susan Henning PT, PRC was a life changer for me. She is not only certified in Schroth but also in Postural Restoration. I found that I required extensive work on my overall posture as well as the Schroth exercises to help with my problems. With her gentle manner, guidance, support and expertise, Susan taught me the exercises I required to gain control over my curve progression (kyphosis and scoliosis) and pain. Only having performed the exercise for four months, this is the first year that my curve did not progress.
I am forever indebted to Susan Henning for what she taught me. She is so passionate about what she does, is very thorough and cares deeply about you as her patient. I finally have a more positive outlook on my condition and plan to keep my scoliosis in check with the continued skilled help and guidance of Susan Henning.
I had my hip replaced at the end of the year, and after a month with Nancy my hip was stronger than it has been in years. Every session with Nancy challenged me to work harder and smarter as she targeted all the core muscles surrounding my repaired hip.
Her positive, pleasant demeanor contributed to y looking forward to our sessions. When I left the sessions, I was given a new, specifically targeted set of exercises that helped me continue to improve both my strength and my flexibility.
Hypermobility and Pain
A patient describes her problems related to hypermobility: "Until the latter part of 2009, I was a healthy, active 54 year old. I exercised daily and never had a serious issue of any kind. For no apparent reason, I began to have foot pain which led to hip pain and back pain and a decrease in function that was alarming to me. I started taking pain medication daily, saw a series of doctors and physical therapists who gave me exercises that I was unable to do, and only served to create more pain. After struggling for 2 years with no improvement, trying many things to treat my pain, and growing ever more desperate, I was referred to Advance Physical Therapy.
When I met Susan Henning, she assessed my situation and we began a journey that truly has changed my life. I learned I was hypermobile (hypermobility), had pelvic instability, and posturally had pretty much fallen apart. Through Postural Restoration, I learned exercises that would immediately help my pain and enable me to move better. Sometimes I did my exercises wrong and that would exacerbate my pain, but Susan always worked with me to explain what I should do or find an appropriate exercise to address the issue that I could do. There were days I arrived in pain and she would do whatever she could to help me. She kindly referred to me as sensitive, which is an understatement.
Slowly I improved, got stronger and eventually discontinued all pain medication. Although I still have small setbacks from time to time because I do too much, where I started and where I am now is like night and day. Postural Restoration is truly unique and has worked for me when everything else failed. I've learned so much and have many tools to help me going forward.
I cannot say enough, or recommend more highly, Advance Physical Therapy. Deana, in the office, is an absolute pleasure, she is always helpful with scheduling and anything else that may arise.
I will be forever grateful to Susan Henning. She is kind, patient, and incredibly knowledgeable. She helped me when it seemed no one else could and anyone would be lucky to have her as their physical therapist."
Personalized attention different from others
My experience at Advance Physical Therapy was not only healthy but very pleasant. The personalized attention that I received helped me greatly to recover in the timeframes set. This personalized attention makes a difference from other places where I received therapy and medical care. Professionalism, knowledge and human sensitivity are the most conspicuous attributes that identify Nancy Toole. Nancy not only is limited to fulfill routines of physical movements; but gives a personalized attention to patients. During my therapy sessions, Nancy taught me to breathe properly and correct postures for a recuperation of my health. Nancy reflects clearly what it means “love to others”. She seeks that her patients recover their health in a disciplined manner, helping us to understand how to address areas for recovery.