Stand Up Straight!

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Laura helping to demonstrate correct sitting posture


– A Discussion About Posture by Laura O’Dell, MSPT, CFMT-

I don’t know about you, but growing up, my mother was always on me about my posture.  While she was probably more concerned about the aesthetically pleasing aspect of standing up straight, she probably didn’t realize all the other benefits to “good” posture.  Knowing what I know now, I’m thankful for her frequent reminders.
The Importance Head to Toe:
As a physical therapist, I’m passionate about posture. The way we sit, stand, walk, and lift effects how force is transferred through our body, and just like a weak link in a chain, that force will find our weak spot. We may not feel the effects of it every time, but over time, it can essentially “break” that weak spot.  I treat many body parts, and posture is important to all of them from the jaw to the foot and everything in between.
When treating patients, I strive to educate them on finding their efficient posture.  Efficient meaning using the least amount of energy.  In an efficient posture, the core muscles are more easily facilitated and no unnecessary strain is being put on muscles and ligaments.  One person’s efficient posture may not look the same as another’s due to body type, genetics, age, tight muscles, etc.  However, every person has the ability to achieve efficient posture, and it may change over the course of their physical therapy treatment.
Block By Block:
Imagine a stack of blocks sitting flush on top of one another.  Stable, right?  Now imagine if a few of those blocks in the stack were off center in any direction.  The stability would decrease, and the stack would more easily topple over.  The human body, or more specifically the human skeleton, is the same way.  Getting the pelvis stacked over the legs, the rib cage over the pelvis, and the head over the spine is a way to achieve a more balanced and efficient posture where the least amount of effort is required.
Sounds easy enough, but most of us don’t know what this feels like.  Many of us have our habitual posture that feels “normal”, but “normal” is not necessarily good.  There are certain functional tests that I can do to assess how well a person accepts load through the spine and how well the stabilizing muscles respond to a perturbation.  There are also techniques to align the body so a person can practice what efficient posture should feel like.  And so begins the postural education.
Static vs Dynamic:
Posture can further be broken down into static and dynamic posture.  Static, or sustained posture pertains to sitting at the computer, looking at our phone, reading a book, or watching TV, during which, we are all working against an invisible force called gravity.
Dynamic posture refers to lifting a bag of groceries, pulling a trashcan to the curb, carrying a backpack, or doing yard work.  Poor static or dynamic posture can be detrimental to our body and can not only lead to injuries but can complicate the healing process after an injury.
If you have any questions about your posture and how you can change it, we will be more than willing to tell and show you.  All the physical therapists here at Physical Therapy Associates have specific training and insight into working with you to achieve your efficient posture.

Car Accidents and You: The Brief Basics

os8e1274cpy-ozark-drones(1)Our hometown of Portland has been through a major shock this winter. Usually snow storms here last 5 minutes, accumulate to 0.5 centimeters and cause an unnecessary panic of school and business closures. This year, we rolled our eyes at the first report of snow. That was, until…it hit.

Portlander’s were caught in several hours of dangerous, slippery traffic. Even worse, they collided into ditches, road barriers and each other. This weather pattern continued for an entire month. The local news stations interviewed stranded motorists after each round of storms dumped a foot of snow onto our unprepared highways. The snow, while picturesque, has caused many drivers pain that will stay long after the white powder has melted away. Given the circumstances, we feel like now is a good time to discuss your options in the event of a motor vehicle accident or MVA.

Protect yourself:

Depending on the speed at impact and body position in the vehicle, auto accident injuries vary from person to person. Symptoms can appear immediately after collision or begin after a few days. This is why it is so important to seek medical care after even a minor accident. Not only for your physical well-being but also for your protection under your auto insurance. Those who wait weeks to months after an accident to see a doctor can run into issues with their personal injury protection. This makes it difficult for the insurance to allow coverage. It is much more troublesome to prove those injuries were the result of an accident after enough time has passed without any medical documentation.

Know your stuff:

Many of us pay our monthly insurance premium and move on with life. It is wise to become educated on your plan before an accident occurs. Take a few minutes, check your policy and coverage options. You may be surprised to find that your policy isn’t structured for much protection. For instance, it is possible that your policy is not set to offer a rental car to replace the damaged vehicle during repairs after a collision.  There could be small dollar amount changes to the monthly premium that add up to much more when it matters. You may also find that you’re plan needs updating, for example, perhaps there is an old car still attached to your plan that you sold off years ago. If the policy has been unchanged for years , chances are it’s costing more money than you may realize.

Handy tips following a motor vehicle accident:

  • If there is another party involved, make sure to get all contact and insurance information from them. Do not sign or agree to anything verbally; even if you feel fine. That or agreeing, for example, that they “pay cash” for damages.
  • Try to take pictures of the scene of the accident, damages to all vehicles, weather conditions, road signs, signals, etc. You never know if this little step could make a big difference in a few months. This is especially true if there is any legal action taken.
  • If there are witnesses present, it would be smart to ask for their name and number.
  • Avoid admitting any type of fault; it may be tempting to apologize if you feel you were responsible, but it could seriously jeopardize your claim in the future. Instead of saying too much or getting angry, take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
  • Call your insurance agent right away to report the accident.
  • Just as important, see a doctor if there are any signs of pain or discomfort. As stated above, this will at the very least protect you in the event that any medical treatment, including P.T is necessary or ongoing.

Play it safe:

The phrase, “better safe than sorry” might be the best advice for anyone that buckles up. Watching cars swerve off into oblivion during Portland’s ‘Snowpocalypse’ has been a wake-up call that accidents happen. The largest mistake in navigating through hazardous weather is thinking a wreck couldn’t happen to you. Perhaps the best way to avoid the perils of the roads when they turn slick is simply staying at home with a mug of hot chocolate.

Information retrieved from:

Two more Certified Functional Manual Therapists!

img956598Congratulations to Brant and Susan! They get to add new credentials to their names: Certified Functional Manual Therapist (CFMT) through the Institute of Physical Art (IPA). We are proud to be one of the only clinics in Oregon that have 3 CFMT’s on staff.

Brant Lewis, PT, CFMT, Susan Vogt, MSPT, CMFT and Laura O’Dell, MSPT, CFMT are working together at Physical Therapy Associates to practice the skills they have learned over the years studying from the IPA. We are excited to see their new knowledge flourish as well as our patients recover and heal through this approach.  This hands-on technique relieves pain, improves mobility and utilizes the core to enhance strength and overall function.

For more information on Functional Manual Therapy, check out the IPA website at